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MANILA, Philippines – A 23-year-old Filipino-Israeli soldier was among the 21 Israeli Defense Force (IDF) personnel who died in a rocket attack while operating in central Gaza on Monday, January 22.
“The Embassy is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Sergeant First Class (Reserves) Cydrick Garin, one of the 21 IDF soldiers killed during a massive explosion in Gaza on 22 January,” the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv said in a statement posted early morning Wednesday, January 24.
According to the Philippine embassy in Israel, Garin’s mother is a native of Isabela province who now lives in Tel Aviv. His father, meanwhile, hails from General Santos City.
“The Embassy and the Filipino Community in Israel share in the grief of the family of Sgt. Garin and join in prayers for strength, peace, and comfort for all those he left behind,” said the embassy.
In a separate statement, the Israel embassy in Manila said it “shares the profound grief of Sgt. Garin’s family and the Filipino community.” “Our commitment is strong to support his loved ones during this challenging time,” the Israel embassy said, adding that it was “facilitating” Garin’s father’s travel to Israel.
Israel’s embassy in Manila has confirmed that Garin holds dual citizenship and is both Israeli and Filipino.
Garin was one of 24 soldiers who died in what has been called the “deadliest day” for the Israel military since itsn war on Hamas and assault on Gaza began in October 2023.
The group of 21 soldiers, which Garin belonged to, died when a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) was fired by Hamas gunmen at a tank securing the IDF team. That blast led to the collapse of two buildings with soldiers inside them, according to the IDF.
Garin and other soldiers were preparing buildings for demolition inside Gaza some 600 meters from the border with Israel, according to IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, as reported by the Times of Israel.
The Times said they were “destroying Palestinian structures and Hamas sites” to create a “buffer zone to allow residents of Israeli border communities to return to their homes.”
Three other IDF soldiers died in a separate incident, bringing the Israeli military death toll in Gaza to 24 on that day. A total of 220 IDF soldiers have died since Israel’s military offensive began in October 2023.
Israel has launched air and land assaults on Gaza since October 2023, following a surprise Hamas attack on several Israeli communities near the border. The Israeli military action has killed at leas 25,490 Palestinians and forced the displacement of a population of over 2 million.
The death toll among Palestinians is feared to be much higher, since thousands more are believed to be unaccounted for under the rubble of Israel’s air strikes.
Countries like Qatar, the US, and Egypt, have served as mediators in hopes of paving the way to releasing more hostages for Palestinians whom Israel has taken as prisoners. The ceasefire between the two sides is hoped to be longer this time – the last ceasefire in November 2023 lasted for just a week. – Rappler.com