24 soldiers killed in biggest single Israeli loss during Gaza combat, military says-UPDATED

24 soldiers killed in biggest single Israeli loss during Gaza combat, military says-UPDATED
# 23 January 2024 12:40 (UTC +04:00)

Twenty-four Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza, the military said on Tuesday, the biggest death toll in a single day since the war began in October, amid what Palestinians said was the most intense bombardment of southern Gaza in the conflict, APA reports.

Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters that 21 soldiers were killed in an explosion. He said militants had fired rocket-propelled grenades at a tank, and at the same time an explosion occurred in two buildings where forces had planted explosives in order to destroy them. The buildings collapsed onto the troops.

"We are still studying and investigating the details of the event and the reasons for the explosion," he said. Earlier, the military had said three soldiers were killed in a separate attack in southern Gaza.

The assault came as Israeli forces pushed deep into western Khan Younis in Gaza, with an air, sea and land bombardment that included storming a hospital and arresting medical staff, Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al Qidra told Reuters.

There was no word from Israel on the situation at the hospital, and the military spokesperson's office had no comment.

Qidra said at least 50 people were killed on Sunday night in Khan Younis, while the sieges at medical facilities meant dozens of dead and wounded were beyond the reach of rescuers.

The United States called on Israel to protect innocent Palestinians and medical staff.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Monday that Israel had a right to defend itself, but added: "We expect them to do so in accordance with international law and to protect innocent people in hospitals, medical staff and patients as well, as much as possible."

Israel says Hamas fighters operate in and around hospitals, which Hamas and medical staff deny.

Israel launched an offensive last week to capture Khan Younis, which it now says is the principal headquarters of the Hamas militants responsible for the Oct. 7 attacks on southern Israel that according to Israeli tallies killed 1,200 people.

Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that rules Gaza and is sworn to Israel's destruction.

At least 25,295 Gazans have been killed since Oct. 7, Gaza health authorities said in an update on Monday.

***10:23

Twenty-one Israeli soldiers were killed in combat in southern Gaza on Monday, the military said, in the biggest single loss of life for Israeli troops during the war with Hamas, APA reports.

In a televised statement Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said two buildings collapsed on the soldiers during a military operation.

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