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  4. 24 Israeli troops killed in deadliest attack on IDF forces in Gaza since Hamas' Oct 7 attack

24 Israeli troops killed in deadliest attack on IDF forces in Gaza since Hamas' Oct 7 attack

Heavy fighting raged across southern Gaza, as Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al Qidra said at least 50 people were killed on Sunday night. Israel has shifted its offensive to Khan Younis which it now says is the principal headquarters of the Hamas militants responsible for the Oct 7 attacks.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Gaza Updated on: January 23, 2024 13:41 IST
Israel, Israeli troops killed, Gaza, Israel Hamas war
Image Source : AP Israeli troops move ahead with their offensive in Gaza.

Israel-Hamas war: At least 24 Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza in the deadliest single attack on the military by the Hamas militant group since the October 7 attacks that triggered the escalating war in the besieged Palestinian enclave, taking the total number of deceased Israeli troops to 208. The development is a major setback for Israel and could add to mounting calls for an immediate ceasefire.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson said that 21 reserve personnel were preparing explosives to demolish two buildings in central Gaza on Monday when a militant fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a tank nearby. The blast triggered the explosives, causing both two-story buildings to collapse on the soldiers inside.

"On behalf of the entire nation, I console the families and pray for the healing of the wounded. Even on this sad and difficult morning, we are strong and remember that together we will win," said Israeli President Isaac Herzog. This war will determine the future of Israel for decades to come, and the fall of soldiers is a requirement to achieve the goals of the war,” wrote Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on X.

The development 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.

Over 50 Palestinians killed in Khan Younis

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. Meanwhile, the United States called on Israel to protect innocent Palestinians and medical staff. "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," said White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby.

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 October 7 attacks on southern Israel that killed 1,200 people. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead until Israel crushes the ruling Hamas militant group and wins the freedom of over 100 hostages held captive in Gaza.

At least 25,295 Gazans have been killed since October 7, Gaza health authorities said in an update on Monday. International concern has mounted over the Palestinian death toll from Israel's assault on the densely populated enclave and a humanitarian crisis afflicting hundreds of thousands of people.

Israelis divided over future of war

Amid international pressure, Israelis are increasingly divided over whether Israel can crush the Hamas and secure the release of 136 hostages still being held in Gaza. Families of the hostages and many of their supporters have called for Israel to reach a ceasefire deal, and dozens of hostages’ relatives stormed a parliamentary committee meeting, demanding a deal to win the release of their loved ones.

The war has heightened regional tensions, with Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen attacking United States and Israeli targets in support of Palestinians. The US and Britain launched another wave of strikes Monday against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have targeted international shipping in the Red Sea in what they portray as a blockade of Israel.

Hamas is believed to have suffered heavy losses but has continued to put up stiff resistance in the face of one of the deadliest air and ground offensives in recent history. Militants are still battling Israeli forces across the territory and launching rockets into Israel.

Gaza’s internet and phone networks collapsed again on Monday for the tenth time during the war, posing another challenge for first responders and making it impossible for people to reach loved ones in different parts of the territory. Israel believes Hamas commanders may be hiding in vast tunnel complexes beneath Khan Younis, the hometown of the group’s top leader in Gaza, Yehya Sinwar.

Israel proposes two-month pause in Gaza

Israel has proposed a two-month pause in the ongoing fighting in the Gaza Strip, in exchange for the release of all hostages in the Palestinian enclave, to Hamas through Qatari and Egyptian mediators as part of a multi-phase deal, according to a report by Axios. Reports of the deal come after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a deal by Hamas on Sunday that called for an end to the war.

Citing Israeli officials, the Axios report said the temporary ceasefire deal entails the release of all hostages being held by the militant group in Gaza. Hamas kidnapped nearly 240 people during its brutal attack on Israel on October 7 last year, out of whom over 100 were released during a week-long ceasefire in late November. 

Netanyahu on Sunday rejected conditions proposed by Hamas to end the war and release hostages that would include Israel's complete withdrawal from the enclave and leaving Hamas in power in Gaza. "Hamas is demanding, in exchange for the release of our hostages, the end of the war, the withdrawal of our forces from Gaza, the release of the murders and rapists of the Nukhba and leaving Hamas in place," he said in an address on Sunday.

(with inputs from agencies)

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