Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari on Tuesday confirmed that 21 soldiers were killed in an incident in central Gaza. This adds to three deaths announced, taking the toll to 24 soldiers killed in the last 24 hours.
This is the highest daily death toll for Israeli troops since the start of the Gaza ground offensive in late October.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog described the incident as an “unbearably difficult morning”. he said, “intense battles are taking place in an extremely challenging space”.
“An RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] was fired at a tank and simultaneously an explosion occurred at two two-story buildings,” Hagari said of battles near the Israeli boundary settlement of Kissufim.
The buildings were full of landmines that Israeli troops planted to demolish the Palestinian structures. “The buildings collapsed due to this explosion while most of the forces were inside and near them,” said Hagari.
Three other Israeli troops died in fighting in southern Khan Younis.
Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in Gaza, is believed to be in Khan Younis.
At least 25,295 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed in Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza since then, according to the Gaza health ministry.