Israeli troops carry the coffin of fellow soldier Captain Elkana Vizel during his funeral in the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem on January 23, 2024, a day after he was killed in combat in Gaza. Photo by Getty Images
TEL AVIV — Israelis woke up Tuesday morning to confusion about news that 21 reservists died Monday in the IDF’s single deadliest incident so far in the Gaza war.
People throughout Tel Aviv doom-scrolled, struggling to understand if the fatal collapse of structures that killed 19 of those reservists was caused by their own mines planted to demolish the buildings or by a rocket launched by a Palestinian rocket-propelled grenade that an IDF spokesman said simultaneously hit a tank that was protecting them, killing two Israeli soldiers inside.
“Probably both,” said Udi Weiss, taking cover under a café awning from heavy rain here on this 109th day of the war. “Sounds like the shot set off the explosives, making it worse,” He added, trailing off: “As if we needed things to get worse…”
Smartphones in hand, Tel Avivians on buses, in a north Jaffa neighborhood laundromat and a City Center barber shop combed through the list of fallen reservists in search of names they recognized.
“Yoav Levi? Could that be Yaron’s boy?” one woman mumbled to another at a bus stop.
The fatal explosion in South Gaza, plus the deaths of three other Israeli soldiers killed in the area early Monday, brings the IDF’s ground operation death toll to 219.
Meanwhile, the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza reported that 195 people there were killed by Israeli strikes in the last 24-hours. Many of them died as the IDF says its forces completed its siege of Khan Younis, a city in southwest Gaza, overnight. The death toll in Gaza surpassed 25,000 earlier this week, according to the ministry.
As morning commuters kept updating their news feeds, 11 “Red Alerts” — real-time notices about rocket attacks on Israel — buzzed on their phones about shelling in northern Israel. Then came news alerts that Hezbollah claimed responsibility for shelling IDF’s aerial surveillance equipment in Mount Meron as retribution for “assassinations in Lebanon and Syria.” That was later followed by two more two more Red Alerts about rocket attacks in the Galilee.
By mid-day, news broke that a man had been arrested for allegedly setting fire to an art installation in Tel Aviv created to honor Israeli soldiers still being held in Gaza. And people lunching in Jaffa discussed headlines that the Israeli government offered Hamas’ Gaza-based leaders exile in exchange for a cease-fire.
It is, they agreed, a head-spinning news day.