A British teenager has been killed in Gaza while fighting for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), the Israeli army said.
Binyamin Needham, 19, died on Sunday and was promoted to the rank of sergeant after his death, the IDF said.
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Mr Needham was born in England and moved to Israel when he was eight years old, with his parents and five siblings.
The outlet quoted his sister, Orly, who said: “He was so proud, and he had just finished basic training. He was happy to defend the country.”
Mr Needham was born in Edgware, north London, and moved to Israel 10 years ago with his parents Faye and Amnon.
Binyamin was the youngest of six and still has a sister and brother in London.
His sister, Orli Ferris, told the Mirror he was “a wonderful, wonderful brother”.
“We loved him with all our hearts and we always will. He will be missed by all of us and so many others, but we will always make sure we remember him in our hearts,” she said.
“Nothing will be the same now, but we are all very proud of what he did and he was also proud of what he was doing.
“He had just finished his apprenticeship and was doing his professional training.
“We don’t know the exact details of what happened but he was only in Gaza for two days. He went in on Friday and died Sunday.”
Intense footage emerged of his IDF battalion storming a building in the Gaza Strip full of Hamas fighters.
She added: “We are so so sad and my parents are devastated, we can’t make any sense of it and we are heartbroken.
“We shall honour him and keep his memory alive. He was a wonderful boy and everyone who knew him said the same.
“He died with a pure soul and he died protecting his country. He would go back to London every year or so to see his siblings who live there.”
The teenager was one of three soldiers who died in combat operations in Gaza on Sunday, the IDF said.
ISRAEL: The IDF announced the deaths of three more troops Hy'd who were killed fighting in Gaza, bringing military death toll since Israel’s offensive to 75: Neriya Shaer (36) from Yavne, Ben Zussman (22) from Jerusalem and Binyamin Yehoshua Needham (19) from Zichron Ya’akov. pic.twitter.com/2k7uuratc7
— KolHaolam (@KolHaolam) December 4, 2023
The other two soldiers were named as Neriya Shaer and Ben Zussman.
Also among British nationals known to have died since Hamas’s attack in October while serving in the Israeli army is 20-year-old Nathanel Young.
The IDF said they had struck 200 Hamas targets since the ceasefire ended, finding a booby-trapped tunnel inside a school as well as explosives and additional weapons.
Today I attended the funeral of 22-year-old Ben Zussman, who grew up in my community in Jerusalem and was killed in Gaza yesterday. I knew him since he was a little boy.
His mother, Sarit, and his sister, Mika, sat quietly at his grave at the end of the funeral.
— Avi Mayer אבי מאיר (@AviMayer) December 4, 2023
The war has already killed thousands of Palestinians and displaced over three-fourths of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents, who are running out of safe places to go.
The Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said the death toll in the territory since October 7 has surpassed 15,500, with more than 41,000 wounded.
The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths, but said 70 per cent of the dead were women and children.
Since the start of the war on 7 October, the IDF announced the deaths of 401 soldiers. Of those, 75 died during the ground offensive inside the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli army resumed its offensive on Friday after a weeklong cease-fire expired. The vast majority of Gaza’s population has fled to the south in search of safety.
Israeli military spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said late Sunday that ground troops were also pushing into the south.
“The Israeli army is continuing and expanding the ground operation against the Hamas presence in every part of the Gaza Strip,” he said.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has been contacted for comment.