An Israeli who was killed during a botched undercover invasion in Gaza in 2018 has finally been identified by the Israeli government, nearly two years after his death. Investigations of the incident by the Palestinian Authority in Gaza found that the soldier was likely killed by so-called ‘friendly fire’ by his fellow Israeli soldiers.

Initially, the Israeli government had stated that he had been killed by Palestinian resistance fighters.

The soldier was identified as Mahmoud Kheir El-Din, 41.

He was one of a group of undercover Israeli soldiers who infiltrated into the Gaza Strip dressed as Palestinian civilians to assassinate two senior leaders of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. The army initiated a series of air strikes, firing missiles and shells to secure the retreat of its undercover soldiers, killing five additional Palestinians.

Hamas fighters exchanged fire with the soldiers.

The undercover soldiers were driving a Volkswagen car, and drove towards the home of Noureddin Baraka, in Bani Suheila area in Khan Younis, before stopping near the property, the al-Quds News Agency has confirmed.

Fighters of the Al-Qassam Brigades then noticed the car and began following it, catching up to it near a kindergarten in Abasan al-Kabeera town, and asking the passengers to step out of the vehicle and show their ID cards.

The News Agency added that the undercover soldiers, who were in the backseat of the car, then opened fire at the fighters, after realizing their cover-up had been exposed.

Al-Quds also stated that some of the undercover soldiers were wearing veils, pretending to be women.

The senior fighter, Noureddin Baraka, was instantly killed in the initial shooting, while other fighters called for help, before chasing the car that carried the undercover forces.

The Israeli army, stationed across the perimeter fence, started firing shells at cars and Palestinians who chased the undercover officers’ vehicle, before it crashed against a wall, and then headed toward the perimeter fence.

Initially, the Israeli soldier who was killed in the Gaza invasion was only identified as Lt. Col. M., while the army kept other information classified.

The Al-Qassam Brigades said the undercover soldiers who infiltrated into an area, east of the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, assassinated one of its senior leaders, identified as Noureddin Mohammad Salama Baraka, 37.

The army also fired several shells into lands, east of Khuza’a town, east of Khan Younis, in addition to firing many flares.

In a statement, Al-Qassam said that the “resistance in Gaza will continue to defend the Palestinian people,” and vowed that “the enemy will pay a heavy price for its crime.”

Israeli sources have confirmed that one of its “Special Forces” officers was killed in an exchange of fire, which broke out during the offensive, and that another officer was injured.”

The Palestinians who were killed in the Israeli offensive have been identified as:

Noureddin Mohammad Salama Baraka, 37.
Mohammad Majed Mousa al-Qarra, 23.
Khaled Mohammad Ali Qweider, 29.
Mustafa Hasan Mohammad Abu Odah, 21.
Mahmoud Atallah Misbih, 25.
Ala’eddin Fawzi Mohammad Fseifis, 24.
Omar Naji Musallam Abu Khater, 21.
It is worth mentioning that al-Qarra just got married a few days prior to being killed. Both Baraka and al-Qarra are senior leaders of the al-Qassam Brigades.

Following this serious Israeli military escalation, the Israeli army asked the Israeli colonialist settlers living close to the border with Gaza to remain indoors, and closed the Zikim road.

Israeli media source said that, after the army assassinated the fighters, Al-Qassam fired at least ten shells into Israel area, and added that the Iron Dome system “intercepted two of them.”