Israeli military says 8 soldiers killed as fighting rages in southern Gaza

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The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced that an explosion or missile attack killed eight Israeli soldiers in a military vehicle in Rafah, marking the deadliest incident for the Israeli army in Gaza since January. 

Israeli military spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said that Israel is still working to confirm the exact details of the attack. The explosion happened just after 5 a.m. in the Tal al-Sultan area of Rafah. The eight soldiers who died were riding in a Namer armored combat engineering vehicle

“Today we received another reminder of the high price we are paying because of this war, and that we have heroes who are willing to sacrifice their lives to defend the citizens of Israel,” Hagari said at a press conference. 

Israel has identified one of the dead soldiers as Captain Wassem Mahmoud, an adherent of the Druze faith and Deputy Company Commander in the Engineering Battalion. The government has not yet released the other seven names, and Hagari has called for people on social media to stop spreading the names of soldiers that the government has not yet released. 

These deaths bring the official IDF death toll throughout the war in Gaza to 307. This attack was the deadliest since January, when a Hamas RPG blast that collapsed two buildings killed 21 soldiers. 

Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, said in a statement that it had carried out an ambush against enemy vehicles in the Tal as-Sultan district in Rafah. 

Israel has called Rafah the last stronghold of Hamas in recent months, and it is the only remaining major city in Gaza that has not been destroyed since Israel invaded Gaza in the aftermath of Hamas’ October 7 attacks in Israel. 

President Biden and other Western allies have repeatedly warned Israel not to launch a ground invasion of Rafah, where the United Nations estimates more than 1 million Gazans have fled to seek safety. 

A group of close to 900 parents of IDF soldiers have previously released a letter calling on their government to not invade Rafah, saying, “We will not agree to be bereaved parents to please Ben Gvir and Smotrich,” citing far-right Israeli politicians National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

Since early May, Israel has been carrying out what its military calls “limited operations” to kill Hamas fighters and dismantle infrastructure used by Hamas. 

Since the beginning of Israel’s assault on Gaza, 37,000 people, most of whom are women and children, have died, according to Palestinian health officials, with the International Rescue warning that 100% of the people in Gaza are severely food insecure.

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