Local Police in Ofakim Defended the Israeli City From Hamas’s Attacks

Mr. Ilouz had his police rifle, protective vest and helmet — more protection than many others had. But as he entered the neighborhood with two other officers and a soldier, he was ambushed by gunfire from a second-floor window.

Hamas gunmen had broken into the home of Rachel and David Edri, a couple in their 60s, and were holding them hostage. A large wall protected the house. The upstairs window had a clear view of the streets.

Bullets struck Mr. Ilouz in the neck and torso, finding a gap in his vest. Under fire, his companions fell back, unable to pull him to safety.

Only later, as more forces arrived at the hostage standoff, could officers retrieve Mr. Ilouz’s body.

The streets outside the Edri home were lethal. That is where the authorities found the body of Roni Abuharon, the officer who had grabbed his floppy hat and rushed into danger. The sidewalk is still stained with his blood.

Around 9:30 a.m., hours after the assault began, Mr. Alus joined the officers assembling outside the house. He made two gruesome discoveries. First, he learned that a good friend and police officer, Avi Buzaglo, had been killed. Mr. Alus picked up Mr. Buzaglo’s police hat, shook off the blood and put it on his head so people would know that he was with the police.

Then he saw Mr. Ilouz’s body. He was crushed.

When his wife called later, pleading for him to come home, Mr. Alus resisted. “It was hard to go home,” he said, “when my friends could not.”

Yamam, a secretive police counterterrorism unit that specializes in hostage rescues, arrived that afternoon at the Edri house.

Officers, including the Edris’ son Evyatar, assembled outside, trying to negotiate for the couple’s safety and occasionally trading gunfire with the hostage-takers, video footage shows.