• 14 Jul, 2024

8 Israeli Soldiers Killed in Gaza Ambush, Marking Deadliest Day in Months

8 Israeli Soldiers Killed in Gaza Ambush, Marking Deadliest Day in Months

In one of the deadliest incidents for Israeli forces in recent months, eight soldiers were killed in southern Gaza after a Hamas ambush. The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred in the Tal as-Sultan district of Rafah.

Hamas fighters targeted Israeli military vehicles with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and then ambushed a support force deployed to the scene. The initial attack involved firing Yassin-105 RPGs at a D9 military bulldozer, resulting in casualties. A subsequent rescue force vehicle was also attacked, leading to its destruction and the death of all its occupants, according to Hamas.

The Israeli army confirmed the loss of eight soldiers during operational activities in southern Gaza but did not provide further details. Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesperson, announced an investigation into the incident. "We are working to disarm all fighters to prevent Hamas from targeting civilians again. Today, we were reminded of the high price we are paying in this war, and we have soldiers ready to sacrifice their lives to defend Israel," Hagari said in a televised statement.

Since the ground invasion of Gaza began on October 27, at least 307 Israeli troops have been killed, and thousands have been wounded. The Gaza health ministry reports that at least 37,296 Palestinians, mostly women, children, and the elderly, have died since the war started on October 7.

The recent casualties are expected to intensify calls for a ceasefire and heighten public anger in Israel. In January, a single attack by Palestinian fighters in central Gaza resulted in the deaths of 21 Israeli troops.

Rafah Assault Intensifies

Despite international condemnation, Israeli forces continue their offensive in Rafah. On Saturday alone, at least 19 Palestinians were killed as the assault on the city expanded. Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped in Rafah, lacking food, water, and medicine.

Following the ambush, air, sea, and artillery attacks on the Tal as-Sultan area intensified. Mohamad Elmasry, a professor at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, commented on the situation, stating that Israel's goal of destroying Hamas remains elusive despite eight months of combat. He noted that about 70% of Hamas’s fighting force remains intact and that the group has been able to recruit thousands of new members.

Gideon Levy, a columnist with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, described the loss of eight soldiers as a "heavy price for Israeli society." He questioned the ongoing conflict, suggesting it could become an endless war of attrition. "More and more people in Israel are asking what for and until when? This might become an endless war – a war of attrition in which as strong as Israel’s army is, Hamas forces can always kill and sabotage, and then there will be direct retaliation. It leads nowhere. We’ll never achieve this ridiculous ‘total victory’ that Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks about," Levy told Al Jazeera.

Despite increasing international pressure for a ceasefire, a resolution to halt the fighting remains distant. Since a weeklong truce in November, which resulted in the release of more than 100 Israelis, repeated attempts to arrange a ceasefire have failed. Hamas demands a permanent end to the war and a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, while Prime Minister Netanyahu refuses to end the invasion until Hamas is eradicated.

More than 100 captives are believed to remain in Gaza, though many are thought to be dead. On Saturday, the al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, stated that Israel could only regain its people if it ends the war and withdraws troops from Gaza.