IDF suffers its deadliest day in Gaza
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed retribution on Tuesday against Hamas after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) lost 24 soldiers in Gaza. Its the highest death toll in a single day since the war against the Palestinian militant group began in October.
The IDF said on Tuesday that 21 of its members were killed near Khan Younis the day before, when Hamas fighters fired anti-tank missiles at them. The resulting blast triggered an explosion that caused the collapse of two buildings while many Israeli troops were either inside the structures or nearby.
“Following the explosion, commanders operating in the field, along with rescue teams that arrived at the scene, have been executing a very complex operation to evacuate the casualties and locate the injured,” the IDF said.
Israeli officials did not provide details on the other three IDF fatalities on Monday.
Netanyahu called Monday “one of the most difficult days since the outbreak of the war.” He said the IDF was investigating the incident to “draw the necessary lessons and do everything to preserve the lives of our warriors.”
“In the name of our heroes, for the sake of our lives, we will not stop fighting until the absolute victory,” he added.
More than 25,000 people – mostly civilians – have been killed in the Palestinian enclave since the war began, according to Gaza health officials. Hamas triggered the conflict by launching surprise attacks that killed more than 1,100 people – including almost 700 Israeli civilians and 71 foreigners – and taking hundreds of hostages back to Gaza. About 220 IDF soldiers have been killed since the Israeli ground offensive began in late October.
Israeli troops have encircled Khan Younis, the second-largest city in Gaza, where the IDF believes Hamas leaders are hiding. Palestinian health officials said on Monday that Israeli forces had stormed one of the city’s hospitals and besieged another.
Netanyahu has rejected calls for negotiating a two-state agreement to end the conflict, which would allow for the creation of an independent Palestinian nation. The Israeli government reportedly proposed a ceasefire for as long as 60 days to allow for the release of all remaining hostages in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Hamas rejected the offer, multiple media outlets said on Tuesday.