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Israel Hamas attack: 21 soldiers killed in deadliest attack on IDF since Gaza war began

At least 21 Israeli soldiers have been killed in a single attack during an operation in central Gaza, making it the deadliest incident in terms of IDF losses since its war on Hamas began more than 100 days ago.

It comes after the Gaza health ministry said the death toll among Palestinians in the Strip rose above 25,000. The health ministry does not distinguish between militant and civilian casualties.

The Israeli soldiers were preparing explosives to take down two buildings in central Gaza on Monday when militants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a tank nearby, according to Israeli media reports.

Israeli soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas

(via REUTERS)

The strike was followed by a huge explosion, causing the buildings to collapse while the soldiers were still inside.

The casualties could yet rise further and more names of victims are likely to be announced, Israel’s Channel 13 said.

The deaths could increase domestic pressure on the Israeli government to halt its offensive in Gaza, which began after a 7 October Hamas terror attack on southern Israel that killed some 1,200 people.

Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant said on Tuesday that it was a “difficult and painful morning” and added: “Our hearts are with the dear families in their most difficult time.

Relatives and supporters of the Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group attend a protest calling for their release outside the Knesset, Israel’s parliament

(AP)

“This is a war that will determine the future of Israel for decades to come – the fall of the soldiers compels us to achieve the goals of the fighting,” he said.

Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson Rear Adm Daniel Hagari said the soldiers were operating in an area around 600m from the border near Kissufim when the building collapsed while troops were inside.

“As far as we know, at around 4pm, an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) was fired by terrorists at a tank securing the forces, and simultaneously, an explosion occurred at two two-story buildings. The buildings collapsed due to this explosion, while most of the forces were inside and near them,” Rear Adm Hagari said.

Rescue workers have been deployed at the site to look for survivors. An investigation has also been launched to confirm how the explosives detonated, bringing down the building.

“We are still studying and investigating the details of the event and the reasons for the explosion,” he told an early morning press briefing.

Protesters spill red paint on the road to symbolise the blood of the Israeli hostages in Gaza since the 7 October attacks

(AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli president Isaac Herzog called it an “unbearably difficult morning” and said Israel will win.

“On behalf of the entire nation, I console the families and pray for the healing of the wounded. Even on this sad and difficult morning, we are strong and remember that together we will win,” he said.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly dismissed growing international pressure for a ceasefire in Gaza and to consider a two-state solution for Palestinians, widening the apparent rift with his closest international allies, including Joe Biden.

Israel has continued to press ahead in its vow to crush Hamas and win the freedom of more than 100 hostages held captive in Gaza.

Mr Netanyahu is also facing anger at home with thousands of Israelis holding protests against the leader in Tel Aviv and demanding a new election over alleged mishandling of the nation’s security.

Protesters including relatives of hostages stormed a parliamentary committee meeting on Monday, demanding a deal to win their loved ones’ release.

After nearly four months of the war, the Israeli bombardment of Gaza has killed nearly 25,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and displaced nearly two million people, according to data by health authorities in Gaza. The city has been reduced to ruins with a large proportion of the population forced into crowded relief camps, where hunger and disease are rife.


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