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

Hamas fighters killed eight Israeli soldiers in Rafah by targeting military vehicles with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and ambushing a support force sent to the scene. This marked one of the deadliest days for Israeli soldiers in Gaza in months, as the ground invasion of the southern region intensifies.

The Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, stated that their soldiers executed a complex ambush on enemy vehicles in the Saudi neighborhood of Tal as-Sultan, western Rafah. They reported using Yassin-105 RPGs to attack a D9 military bulldozer, resulting in Israeli casualties. A subsequent rescue vehicle was also targeted, leading to its destruction and the death of all occupants.

The Israeli army confirmed that eight soldiers “fell during operational activity in southern Gaza” but did not provide further details. Daniel Hagari, Israel’s military spokesperson, announced an investigation into the incident. In a televised statement, he emphasized the ongoing efforts to disarm Hamas fighters to prevent further attacks on civilians, referencing the significant loss of life and the sacrifices made by Israeli soldiers.

Since the ground invasion of Gaza began on October 27, at least 307 Israeli troops have been killed, with thousands more wounded. Gaza’s 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 high casualties on Saturday are expected to intensify calls for a ceasefire and increase public discontent in Israel. In January, 21 Israeli soldiers were killed in a single attack by Palestinian fighters in central Gaza.

The assault on Rafah continues to expand despite international condemnation. On Saturday, at least 19 Palestinians were killed, and hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped in the city without essential supplies. Following the ambush, Israeli air, sea, and artillery attacks on Tal as-Sultan escalated.

Mohamad Elmasry, a professor at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, noted that the attack demonstrates the difficulty of achieving Israel’s goal of destroying Hamas, despite eight months of combat. He cited a report indicating that approximately 70 percent of Hamas’s fighting force remains intact and that the group continues to recruit new members.

Gideon Levy, an author and columnist for Haaretz, commented on the significant impact of the eight soldier deaths on Israeli society, questioning the ongoing conflict’s purpose and potential for an endless war of attrition. He expressed skepticism about achieving the “total victory” promised by Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Despite mounting international pressure, a ceasefire agreement remains elusive. Attempts to broker a truce since a weeklong ceasefire in November have failed, with Hamas demanding a permanent end to the war and a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Netanyahu insists on continuing the invasion until Hamas is eradicated. Over 100 captives are believed to remain in Gaza, though many may be dead. Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, stated that Israel could only secure the release of its people by ending the war and withdrawing troops from Gaza.

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