Israel met with fierce Hamas resistance: More than a dozen Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza

Israel met with fierce Hamas resistance: More than a dozen Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza
Israel met with fierce Hamas resistance: More than a dozen Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza

Thirteen Israeli soldiers were killed on Friday and Saturday amid fierce resistance by Hamas in central and southern Gaza.

More than a dozen Israeli soldiers were killed in combat in the Gaza Strip over the weekend, the Israeli military said Sunday, in some of the bloodiest days of battle since the start of Israel’s ground offensive in late October and a sign that Hamas is still putting up a fight despite weeks of brutal and indiscriminate Israeli war.

The war has devastated most parts of the Gaza Strip, killed more than 20,000 Palestinians and displaced nearly 85% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people.

The majority of Israelis still stand firmly behind the country’s stated goals of crushing Hamas’s governing and military capabilities and releasing the remaining 129 captives, despite rising international pressure amid the soaring death toll and unprecedented suffering among Palestinians.

But the growing number of dead soldiers could undermine that support. Soldiers’ deaths are a sensitive topic in Israel, a country with compulsory military service for most Jews. The names of dead soldiers are announced at the top of hourly newscasts.

The 13 Israeli soldiers killed on Friday and Saturday died in battles in central and southern Gaza, an indication of how Hamas is still putting up tough resistance against advancing Israeli troops, even as Israel claims to have dealt a serious blow to the armed Palestinian group.

According to Israeli Army Radio, four soldiers were killed when their vehicle was struck by an anti-tank missile. The others were killed in separate, sporadic fighting.

Another soldier was killed in northern Israel by fire from the Lebanese Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah, which has kept up low-level fighting with Israel since the war with Hamas erupted.

A wounded Israeli soldier arrives for the funeral of Maj. Tzafrir Bar-Or, 32, one of 13 soldiers killed in several separate incidents in Shijaiyah on Sunday, at the military cemetery in Holon, Israel, Monday, July 21, 2014.

Their deaths bring the number of Israeli soldiers killed since the ground offensive began to 152.

Even if Israelis have been supportive of the war effort, there has been widespread anger against the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which many criticise for failing to protect civilians on 7 October.

On Saturday night, thousands of people demonstrated in pouring rain in Tel Aviv, chanting “Bibi, Bibi, we don’t want you anymore,” referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.

Netanyahu has avoided claiming responsibility for the military and policy failures leading up to Oct. 7, saying he would answer tough questions once the fighting is over.

On Saturday, Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said forces were expanding their offensive in northern and southern Gaza and troops were fighting in “complex areas” in Khan Younis, Gaza’s second-largest city, where Israel believes Hamas leaders are hiding.

Israel’s offensive has been one of the most devastating military campaigns in recent history and has claimed a staggering toll on Palestinian civilians. More than two-thirds of the 20,000 killed were women and children, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said Sunday morning that a 13-year-old boy was shot and killed by an Israeli drone attack while inside the building of al-Amal hospital in Khan Younis.

Palestinians reported heavy Israeli bombardment and gunfire Sunday morning in the town of Jabaliya, an area north of Gaza City that Israel had previously claimed to control. Sounds of explosions and gunfire echoed across the town with Israeli warplanes flying over the area, they said.

“There are bombing, and fierce battles during the night,” said Assad Radwan, a Palestinian fisherman from Jabaliya. “Sounds of explosions and gunfire never stopped.”

On Saturday, rescuers and hospital officials said that more than 90 Palestinians, including dozens from an extended family, were killed in Israeli airstrikes on two homes in Gaza.

Israel has come under heavy international criticism for the rising civilian death toll, widespread damage and deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Israel has launched thousands of airstrikes since 7 October, and has mostly refused to comment on specific attacks.

Israel says it has killed thousands of Hamas militants, including about 2,000 in the past three weeks since expanding its offensive to southern Gaza, but has not presented evidence.

It says it is dismantling Hamas’ vast underground tunnel network and killing off top Hamas commanders — an operation that leaders have said could take months.

As the Palestinian death toll increased, the United Nations Security Council passed a watered-down resolution calling for the speedy delivery of humanitarian aid for hungry and desperate Palestinians and the release of all the hostages, but not for a ceasefire.

Following the UN resolution, it was not immediately clear how and when aid deliveries would accelerate. Trucks enter through two crossings — Rafah on the border with Egypt and Kerem Shalom on the border with Israel. On Friday, fewer than 100 trucks entered, the UN said — far below the daily average of 500 before the war.

Both crossings were closed Saturday by mutual agreement among Israel, Egypt and the U.N., Israeli officials said.

Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, on Sunday reiterated calls by other top UN officials for a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza to allow the delivery of aid, and help release hostages.

“For aid to reach people in need, hostages to be released, more displacement to be avoided and above all the devastating loss of lives to stop a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza is the only way forward,” he wrote on X.

Israel’s allies in Europe have also stepped up calls for a stop to the fighting. But the US, Israel’s top ally, appeared to remain firmly behind Israel even though it has intensified its calls for greater protection for civilians in Gaza.

US President Joe Biden spoke with Netanyahu on Saturday, a day after Washington shielded Israel from a firmer UN resolution. Biden said he did not ask for a cease-fire, while Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister “made clear that Israel would continue the war until achieving all its goals.”



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