Hamas fires at border aid crossing from civilian areas of Rafah, kills three IDF soldiers

Israeli security and rescue forces at the scene of a mortar shell attack near the Kerem Shalom Crossing in southern Israel, May 5, 2024. Photo by Flash90.

(JNS) — Three Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed and at least three others were seriously wounded on May 5 when Hamas terrorists fired 14 mortar shells from the Rafah area of southern Gaza at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, the military announced.

The slain troops were identified as Staff Sgt. Ruben Marc Mordechai Assouline, 19, from Ra’anana; Staff Sgt. Ido Testa, 19, from Jerusalem; and Staff Sgt. Tal Shavit, 21, from Kfar Giladi.

Another 11 soldiers sustained wounds, the IDF said. The wounded were evacuated to nearby hospitals and their families were informed.

The Israeli Air Force subsequently attacked terrorist targets in Rafah, in the areas from which the missiles were fired towards Kerem Shalom.

“Fighter jets, directed by the Gaza Division, attacked the launch pad that carried out the launches towards the area. In addition, fighter jets attacked a military structure in the launch area,” the IDF said.

The military noted that “the launches were carried out by the Hamas terrorist organization near the Rafah Crossing, around 350 meters from civilian shelters. This is another clear example of the systematic exploitation by Hamas of humanitarian facilities and areas for terrorist purposes, while using the civilian population as a human shield.”

The Kerem Shalom area, located at the Israel-Gaza-Egypt border triangle, is the site of the primary crossing between Israel and Gaza, where thousands of humanitarian aid trucks have passed through during the war.

The Kerem Shalom crossing is currently closed to the passage of humanitarian aid trucks, the IDF said.

The attack comes as the military prepares for an offensive in the last Hamas bastion along the Egyptian border should the terrorist organization reject Jerusalem’s latest truce offer, described by U.S. mediators as the most generous yet from the Israeli side.

Jerusalem says going into Rafah is essential to winning the war, given that four of the final six Hamas battalions — thousands of gunmen — are entrenched there. If the Rafah operation does not move forward, Israel has warned that Hamas will regroup and threaten Israel again. The terrorist group has pledged many repeats of the atrocities committed on Oct. 7.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir tweeted following the attack: “We did not attack Gaza and we received the seventh of October, We didn’t attack in Rafah and we received a precise attack, Netanyahu, go into Rafah now!”

Hamas commander, Nukhba terrorists killed

An Israeli Air Force strike killed Saleh Jamil Muhammad Amad, a Hamas terrorist commander responsible for combat support within the Bureij Battalion in central Gaza, the IDF said on May 5.

He was slain alongside several other operatives who were with him inside Hamas terror infrastructure.

In another airstrike, three Hamas terrorists from the elite Nukhba unit, some of whom participated in the Oct. 7 massacre, were killed.

Additionally, IDF artillery fired towards a Hamas launch area where ready-to-use rocket launchers aimed at southern Israel were present.

Over the past 24 hours, IAF fighter jets and aircraft struck additional Hamas terrorist targets throughout the Gaza Strip, including weapons storage facilities, a structure with a sniper threatening troops and two terrorists operating close to a launch post.

Furthermore, IAF aircraft struck and killed three Hamas terrorists in the area of Jabaliya in northern Gaza, including a deputy company commander, a tunnel operative and a drone operator.

PIJ operative who commanded forces on Oct. 7 killed

The IDF announced on May 4 that earlier in the day, IAF fighter jets killed senior Islamic Jihad operative Aiman Zaarab in a strike in southern Gaza.

“As part of his role, Zaarab was responsible for the Islamic Jihad Nukhba forces’s attack on Kibbutz Sufa and the Sufa military post during the Oct. 7 massacre,” the IDF said. “Additionally, over the past few days, Zaarab led the Islamic Jihads’ preparation for combat in the southern Gaza Strip.”

Two additional PIJ operatives were killed alongside Zaarab; they were staying in his operational apartment.