Israel’s military has suffered its single deadliest incident of the Gaza war, which left twenty-one soldiers killed after they came under attack by (presumably) Hamas militants who fired a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) which triggered a bigger detonation.
It happened Monday but what was made public Tuesday, resulting in the Israeli defense ministry raising the official death toll from the ground offensive to 219 (though some analysts believe the true figure could be much higher). According to Israeli media, “The buildings were being rigged for demolition by troops when Palestinian gunmen fired an RPG at a tank securing the forces.”
“A second blast then occurred in the buildings, possibly as a result of a second RPG, leading to their collapse,” The Times of Israel (TOI) continued.
It happened very close to Israeli territory in northern Gaza. The IDF noted of the troops laying explosives to the building, “They were destroying structures and Hamas sites as part of the army’s efforts to establish a buffer zone to allow residents of Israeli border communities to return to their homes.”
Initially two IDF soldiers standing ground level beside the tank were killed directly by the RPG fire, but the majority of soldiers were apparently killed when the larger explosions in the building were detonated and the entire structure came down. “Rescue forces described the scene as reminiscent of the aftermath of an earthquake,” TOI noted.
Fighting across the Gaza Strip resulted in a total of 24 IDF troops deaths on Monday, which includes the building collapse incident. A separate attack incident saw three officers killed.
Currently, the heaviest fighting is still focused on the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. Israel’s military says it has completely encircled the city, and its three hospital have been crowded with displaced Palestinians seeking shelter and safety.
Some commentators say the IDF unit was rigging explosives to Palestinian homes when the RPG attack occurred, but it remains unclear what particular buildings detonated and collapsed…
IDF soldiers were placing mines in buildings 600 meters from the border to raze them.
Hamas fighters fired RPGs at a tank guarding the soldiers and at the structures, which collapsed on the soldiershttps://t.co/2pxEf17II4
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) January 23, 2024
Bodies are said to be piling up, and it appears that another siege situation is emerging, akin to what happened earlier in the conflict when hospitals in Gaza City become a focal point of fighting and ground operations. Palestinian sources were quoted in BBC as saying that “Israeli blockades and the storming of hospitals since Monday had left the wounded and dead beyond the reach of rescuers.”
“The dead were being buried inside the grounds of Nasser hospital because it has been unsafe to leave in order to reach the cemetery,” the eyewitness accounts said.