Israel says 24 soldiers killed in deadliest day of its ground war on Gaza

AFP , Tuesday 23 Jan 2024

The Israeli army said Tuesday that 24 soldiers had been killed in Gaza the day before, the biggest single-day toll since the start of its ground operation on 27 October.

Israeli troops
Israeli troops carry the coffin of fellow soldier Hadar Kapeluk during his funeral in the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem on January 23, 2024, a day after he was killed in combat in the Gaza Strip. AFP

 

Twenty-one soldiers were killed when rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) fire hit a tank near two buildings where they were carrying out an operation, military spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a televised statement.

He said the attack occurred at around 4 pm (1400 GMT) on Monday and all those killed were reservists.

The RPG was fired at a tank that was protecting the troops when an explosion erupted in two nearby two-storey buildings, Hagari said.

"The buildings collapsed as a result of this explosion, while most of the force was inside and near it," he said.

The buildings exploded as troops had planted explosives in them after the two structures had been identified as "terrorist infrastructure" in the area, Hagari said.

A medical evacuation team was deployed but it was a "complicated operation, which took place until the last hours," Hagari said, indicating the difficulty in extracting bodies buried under the rubble.

"The dedicated reservists, who stood up for the flag, sacrificed what was dearest to them for the security of the state of Israel so that we can all live here in complete safety," he said.

The army had previously announced the deaths of three other soldiers on Monday, taking the day's overall toll to 24 -- the deadliest since the ground offensive started in Gaza.

Israel's blistering offensive on Gaza has killed 25,295 people, two-thirds of them women, children and adolescents, according to the health ministry of the Palestinian territory.

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