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Eight Israeli soldiers killed in Rafah operation, IDF says



Eight Israeli soldiers were killed in southern Gaza on Saturday, Israel’s military has said.

The soldiers were returning from an overnight operation in Rafah’s Tal al-Sultan neighbourhood at around 05:15 local time (03:15 BST) when their armoured vehicle is understood to have exploded.

In a statement on X, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) identified 23-year-old Captain Wassem Mahmoud as among those killed and said the names of the other soldiers would be released once the families have been notified.

According to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry, 30 Palestinians have been killed in the past day.

Israeli ground troops are continuing to operate in Rafah to oust Hamas from what it calls its “last major stronghold”.

A statement from Hamas earlier on Saturday on Telegram claimed the group had fired a rocket at an Israeli army bulldozer, and then fired a second one at the reinforcements that arrived.

The deaths of the eight soldiers marks the deadliest incident for Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip since January this year.

Aid agencies have warned of a dire humanitarian situation in Rafah, where the UN says around one million Palestinians are taking refuge.

On Wednesday, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a significant proportion of Gaza’s population was facing “catastrophic hunger and famine-like conditions”.

Several world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, have urged Israel not to conduct a full scale assault on Rafah.

The Hamas-run health ministry says more than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war, and many hundreds of thousands more have been injured or displaced.

The war began after Hamas attacked Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people and taking 251 others back to Gaza as hostages.

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Source: bbc

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