Son of Israeli War Cabinet Member Killed in Action in Gaza

The son of Israel’s former top military commander, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, was among at least two soldiers killed in fighting Thursday in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said.

Master Sgt. Gal Meir Eisenkot, 25, a reserve soldier in a commando unit, was killed in Jabaliya, in northern Gaza, the military said. General Eisenkot, who served as chief of staff of the Israeli Army from 2015 to 2019, is now a government minister and a nonvoting member of the emergency war cabinet that is directing the fighting.

The war cabinet, formed on Oct. 11, is made up of three primary members — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Yoav Gallant, the defense minister; and Benny Gantz, another former chief of staff and centrist politician — and two members who participate in the meetings as observers: Mr. Eisenkot and Ron Dermer, a close Netanyahu aide who was previously Israel’s ambassador to the United States.

Nearly 100 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the Palestinian enclave over the last two months, since the Hamas-led attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7. More than 300 soldiers were killed that day, Israeli officials have said, and several were taken to Gaza as captives.

General Eisenkot was visiting a war room in southern Israel on Thursday when he was informed that his son had been critically wounded, according to reports by Israeli news media. Israel’s military announced his son’s death on Thursday evening.

Mr. Netanyahu offered condolences on behalf of himself and his wife, Sara, to the family, calling Sergeant Eisenkot “a brave warrior and a true hero.”

“We weep with you,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a statement. “We embrace you.”

Mr. Netanyahu and his wife also offered their condolences to the families of all the country’s fallen soldiers on Thursday evening, the first night of Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish festival of lights.

The death of a soldier can touch many in Israel, where most 18-year-olds are drafted for mandatory service and most families have, or know, soldiers serving in the reserves. It was not immediately clear whether the death of Sergeant Eisenkot might affect the work of the war cabinet.

After four decades in the army, General Eisenkot went into politics last year and joined Mr. Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party, which is now part of the National Unity alliance. The alliance sat in political opposition after the elections of November 2022, which returned Mr. Netanyahu to power, leading the most polarizing, far-right and religiously conservative coalition government in Israel’s history.

Public trust in the government, which had been pressing an unpopular and divisive judicial overhaul plan, plummeted over the intelligence and policy failures leading up to the Oct. 7 assault, and few of Mr. Netanyahu’s many ministers had the knowledge or experience to oversee a war.

Mr. Gantz and his alliance agreed to join the government for the duration of the war, on the condition that Mr. Netanyahu formed a war cabinet that could make decisions in a smaller and more professional forum than the unwieldy and fractious security cabinet.

Tamir Hayman, a former head of the military intelligence directorate, wrote on social media that General Eisenkot told him at the beginning of the conflict that he was “going to manage the war as if his son is on the frontline and as if his daughter is a hostage in Gaza.”

Mr. Hayman said General Eisenkot then added, “in his direct and serious style, ‘My daughter is not a hostage, but my son is on the frontline.’”