British-Israeli teenager killed while fighting for the IDF in Gaza

4 December 2023, 15:52 | Updated: 4 December 2023, 15:58

Binyamin Needham died fighting in the Gaza strip
Binyamin Needham died fighting in the Gaza strip. Picture: Social Media

By Asher McShane

A British-born teenager has died while fighting in the Gaza Strip for the Israel Defence Forces.

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Binyamin Needham was named among three IDF soldiers killed in recent days.

Mr Needham died just weeks after celebrating his 19th birthday.

The combat engineer had only been in Gaza for two days when he was fatally injured. The exact circumstances of his death are not clear.  He was serving as part of the Combat Engineering Corps of the 601st Battalion when he was killed.

Mr Needham immigrated to Israel with his family when he was just eight years old and was the youngest of six siblings.

Ben Zussman, 22, from Jerusalem, was also part of the 401st Brigade’s Combat Engineering Corps. He was killed during a battle in the north of the Gaza Strip, the IDF announced.

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Neriya Shaer, 36, from Yavne in central Israel, was killed on Sunday fighting in northern Gaza.

The Israeli military has renewed its calls for mass evacuations from the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, where tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians have sought refuge in recent weeks, as it widened its ground offensive and bombarded targets across the territory.

The expanded offensive, following the collapse of a week-long ceasefire, is aimed at eliminating Gaza's Hamas rulers, whose October 7 attack on Israel triggered the deadliest Israeli-Palestinian violence in decades.

The war has already killed thousands of Palestinians and displaced more than three-quarters of the territory's population of 2.3 million Palestinians, who are running out of safe places to go.

Already under mounting pressure from its top ally, the United States, Israel appears to be racing to strike a death blow against Hamas - if that is even possible, given the group's deep roots in Palestinian society - before another ceasefire.

But the mounting toll from the fighting, which Palestinian health officials say has killed several hundred civilians since the truce ended on Friday, further increases pressure to return to the negotiating table.

It could also render even larger parts of the isolated territory uninhabitable.

The ground offensive has transformed much of the north, including large parts of Gaza City, into a rubble-filled wasteland.

Hundreds of thousands of people have sought refuge in the south, which could meet the same fate, and both Israel and neighbouring Egypt have refused to accept any refugees.

Residents said they heard air strikes and explosions in and around Khan Younis overnight and into Monday after the military dropped leaflets warning people to relocate further south towards the border with Egypt.

In an Arabic language post on social media early on Monday, the military again ordered the evacuation of nearly two dozen neighbourhoods in and around Khan Younis.

Halima Abdel-Rahman, a widow and mother of four, said she has stopped heeding such orders. She fled her home in October to an area outside Khan Younis, where she stays with relatives.

"The (Israeli) occupation tells you to go to this area, then they bomb it," she said. "The reality is that no place is safe in Gaza. They kill people in the north. They kill people in the south."