Eight Israeli soldiers killed in Rafah, according to IDF

Eight Israeli soldiers were killed in an explosion in southern Gaza on Saturday, the Israeli military said, in the deadliest incident for the army in the war since January.

The soldiers were in an armored vehicle that was hit by a large explosion that a preliminary investigation showed detonated explosive “engineering material,” the military said.

The incident occurred during an operation in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood of Rafah, which has been a key target for Israeli forces in recent weeks.

Earlier, Hamas’s armed wing said it had fired a rocket at an armored vehicle after setting up an ambush.

The soldiers were returning from a night operation in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood of Rafah at around 05:15 local time (03:15 BST) when it is understood their armored vehicle exploded.

Israeli media reported that Israeli forces had killed 50 fighters in that operation, and the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said 30 Palestinians had been killed in the last day.

In a statement on .

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had paid “a heartbreaking price in our just war in defense of our homeland,” but said his country would continue fighting this war “to secure our existence and our future.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also expressed his regret, stating that “the pain that comes with such a loss is immense.”

Israeli ground troops continue to operate in Rafah to expel Hamas from what it calls its “last great stronghold.”

Aid agencies have warned of a dire humanitarian situation in Rafah, where the UN says around a 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 carry out a large-scale attack 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 October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking another 251 back to Gaza as hostages.

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