Killed and abducted

IDF: Sgt. Maj. Muhammad Alatrash was killed in fighting on Oct. 7, body held in Gaza

39-year-old tracker from Bedouin community in south was abducted from Nahal Oz area during Hamas-led onslaught; military meanwhile advances in Rafah.

Sgt. Maj. Muhammad Alatrash, who was killed and abducted by Hamas on October 7. (The Times of Israel: Courtesy)
Sgt. Maj. Muhammad Alatrash, who was killed and abducted by Hamas on October 7. (The Times of Israel: Courtesy)

(THE TIMES OF ISRAEL) The Israel Defense Forces announced on Monday the death of soldier Sgt. Maj. Muhammad Alatrash, who was killed and abducted by Hamas on October 7, as the war against the terror group raged for its 262nd day.

Alatrash, 39, from the southern Bedouin community of Sa’wa, served as a tracker in the Gaza Division’s Northern Brigade. His body was taken from the Kibbutz Nahal Oz area, following a battle with terrorists during the Hamas onslaught.

Until now, he was listed as one of the 251 hostages abducted by the terror group on October 7.

Recently, the military was able to declare Alatrash’s death based on findings and new intelligence.

Alatrash has two wives and 13 children, including a baby who was a month old when he was abducted on October 7. He also has 22 brothers and sisters, who were awaiting information about their sibling for nearly nine months.

It is now believed that 116 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — though dozens are thought dead — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November, and four hostages were released prior to that.

The destruction caused by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, October 20, 2023. (The Times of Israel: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Seven hostages have been rescued by troops alive, and the bodies of 19 hostages have also been recovered, including three mistakenly killed by the military.

The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 42 of those still held by Hamas — including Alatrash — citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza. One more person is listed as missing since October 7, and her fate is still unknown, though her family believes she was killed.

Hamas is also holding two Israeli civilians who entered the Strip in 2014 and 2015, as well as the bodies of two IDF soldiers who were killed in 2014.

Fighting continued in the Gaza Strip on Monday, with the military reporting that it had killed a prominent Hamas operative involved in developing weapons for the terror group.

The IDF said Muhammad Salah “took part in a project to develop strategic weapons” for Hamas, as well as commanding several more squads that were developing weaponry. Salah was killed in a drone strike on Sunday.

Many more strikes were carried out across Gaza over the past day, including against tunnel shafts and cells of gunmen, the military said.

The strikes came as troops continued to operate in southern Gaza’s Rafah and in the Netzarim Corridor in the Strip’s center.

In Rafah, the IDF said, troops advanced in the Tel Sultan neighborhood, locating weapons and rocket launchers used in previous attacks.

Also Monday, two rockets were launched from the northern Gaza Strip in the afternoon, one toward the southern coastal city of Ashkelon and the other at the border community of Mefalsim.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. The military said both rockets were intercepted.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said it had treated two people in good condition who fell over while running to shelters as sirens sounded in Ashkelon and several more towns near the Strip. There were no reports of damage in the attack.

Earlier in the day, a rocket launched from Rafah at southern Israel was intercepted by the Iron Dome, the military said. Sirens had sounded in several communities in the Eshkol Regional Council.

During a visit to the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said the military was getting close to defeating Hamas’s Rafah Brigade.

“We have very significant achievements in the fighting in Rafah,” Halevi said. “This is reflected in the number of terrorists killed, as well as in the destroyed infrastructure [and] tunnels.”

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (left) is seen with the head of the Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, in southern Gaza’s Rafah, June 23, 2024. (The Times of Israel: Israel Defense Forces)

Halevi said the IDF’s control of the so-called Philadelphi Route on the Gaza-Egypt border is “very, very significant,” and closes Hamas’s “oxygen pipeline for future smuggling.”

“We are clearly approaching the point where we [can] say we dismantled the Rafah Brigade. It is defeated not in the sense that there are no more terrorists in it, but in the sense that it can no longer function as a fighting framework,” he said.

Halevi said “many” of the Rafah Brigade’s operatives had been killed, telling the troops that “you will take care to kill as many terrorists as possible and destroy as much infrastructure as possible until the end of the mission here.”

The war began on October 7 when thousands of Hamas terrorists attacked southern Israel under a barrage of rockets fired at population centers all over the country. They brutally killed 1,200 people, amid multiple instances of torture and rape, and seized 251 hostages. Israel swiftly declared war on Hamas, vowing to topple the terror group’s regime in Gaza and free the hostages.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 37,500 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far, though the toll cannot be verified and does not differentiate between civilians and fighters. Israel says it has killed some 15,000 combatants in battle and some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel during the October 7 attack.

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