HomeTop StoriesThree Israeli soldiers killed in fighting in southern Gaza

Three Israeli soldiers killed in fighting in southern Gaza

Three Israeli soldiers were killed when a booby trap exploded in a building in Rafah, Israeli media reported on Wednesday as fighting continued in southern Gaza despite persistent calls from around the world for Israel to immediately halt the operation.

The Israeli army confirmed that three soldiers from the Nahal infantry brigade had been killed in fighting the previous day.

During the operation, Israeli soldiers went from house to house looking for weapons, the army said, without commenting specifically on where or how they died. According to local media, it happened in a booby-trapped building in Rafah.

According to the military, Tuesday’s incident means that 639 Israeli soldiers have been killed and more than 3,600 others injured since the Oct. 7 massacres by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Israel’s subsequent air and ground campaign in Gaza.

More than 36,100 people have been killed by Israel in Gaza so far, according to the Hamas-led health authority.

As the war in Gaza continues, Saudi Arabia condemned Israel’s deadly airstrikes on Rafah, a Foreign Ministry statement said.

The kingdom denounced “the continued genocidal massacres that the Israeli occupation forces have committed without deterrence against the Palestinian people by continuing to target the tents of defenseless Palestinian refugees in Rafah.”

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Riyadh held Israel fully responsible “for what is happening in Rafah and in the occupied Palestinian territories.”

It added that Israel’s violations of international and humanitarian resolutions “exacerbate the scale of the unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe experienced by the Palestinian people.”

Palestinian medics said on Tuesday that dozens of people were killed in new Israeli attacks on Rafah, two days after 45 people were reported killed in an airstrike on refugees that drew international condemnation.

The latest attacks come in the wake of a ruling last week by the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering Israel to immediately end the Rafah operation. Israel has so far refused to obey the ruling.

Jordan also condemned “the Israeli occupation forces’ attacks on tents of displaced Palestinians in Rafah and their continued commission of heinous war crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza,” a Foreign Ministry statement said late Tuesday.

Hamas fighters also fired on an Israeli border community from the West Bank, a video released by Hamas showed on Wednesday.

Israeli Army Radio reported that there were no casualties in Bat Hefer, a village located near the barrier separating Israel and the occupied West Bank, but there was material damage.

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The attackers, seen wearing Hamas headbands, came from a refugee neighborhood in the Palestinian West Bank town of Tulkarm.

The Israeli army has carried out repeated raids on Tulkarm and other Palestinian towns and cities in the West Bank.

Since the start of the Gaza war following the October 7 Hamas massacre, the situation in the West Bank has become more tense.

According to the West Bank Ministry of Health, about 500 Palestinians have since been killed in Israeli military operations, clashes or their own attacks. At the same time, Israeli settlers have also taken violent action against the Palestinians.

According to Israel’s National Security Advisor, the war is likely to continue at least until the end of the year.

“We can expect at least seven more months of fighting this year,” Tzachi Hanegbi told Israel’s Kan Channel. This is necessary to destroy the rule of Islamist Hamas and its military capabilities, he said.

The military has defined 2024 in its plans as the “year of battle,” he said. “We need stamina and endurance.”

The border area between Egypt and the Gaza Strip has become a “smuggler’s paradise” over the past 17 years, he added, saying together with Egypt it is necessary to ensure that arms smuggling does not take place there in the future.

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Egypt says a total of 1,500 tunnels have been destroyed in the border area since 2013.

Hanegbi said the Israeli military already controls 75% of the so-called Philadelphi Corridor – a 14-kilometer-long border strip between Israel and Egypt. He assumed that Israel would gain control of the entire corridor over time.

Israel’s advance into the corridor represents a new test for relations with Egypt. The two countries signed a peace treaty in 1979, establishing the corridor as a buffer zone.

Egypt threatened in January that an “occupation” of the corridor by Israel would violate the 45-year peace treaty. Egypt has also repeatedly rejected Israel’s claims that it facilitates or permits arms smuggling.

Israel will likely maintain security control in the long term “because there are no other volunteers,” Hanegbi added, although he said Israel does not seek civilian rule in the coastal strip and hopes for new Palestinian leadership.

For Israel, however, this would only be possible on the ‘day after Hamas’.

Israeli leaders remain committed to their goal of eliminating the last battalions of Hamas.

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