February 25, 2024

An Israeli soldier who was seriously injured during a clash with Hamas fighters in Gaza has died after contracting a “superbug” infection from ground soil contaminated with sewer water, Israeli media reported on Tuesday.

The unnamed soldier joined several soldiers being treated in Israel for multidrug-resistant fungal infections following war action in Gaza, but was the first to succumb to his illness, according to the report.

Israeli doctors believe the soldiers contracted the fungus from Gaza’s ground soil, which is contaminated with sewage and other pollutants following months of bombardments by Israeli forces.

Journalists on the ground in Gaza reported as early as October that the streets were “overflowing with sewage” and the population was “on the brink of a massive health hazard and the risk of diseases are looming.”

This photo released by the Israeli military on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, shows ground operations inside the Gaza Strip.Israel Defense Forces via AP

“Some of the wounded in Gaza are exhibiting complex infections which are the result of conditions on the ground,” said Prof. Eyal Leshem, an infectious diseases expert at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center. 

Similar infections were reported by hostages released from Hamas captivity during a brief ceasefire period in late November.

“That is why we are extremely worried about the infected wounded of hostages who remain in captivity,” said Prof. Hagai Levine, a noted Israeli epidemiologist and medical representative for the hostage families, “which emphasizes the understanding that it is necessary to release the hostages and bring them back to Israel for treatment as soon as possible.”