Ten Israeli soldiers, including senior officer, killed in Gaza ambush
Ten Israeli soldiers were killed during fighting in Gaza on Tuesday, including a colonel who had commanded a forward base for the Golani infantry brigade, the Israeli army has announced.
The death toll was updated on Wednesday from an earlier statement which said at least eight soldiers had been killed, among them Col. Itzhak Ben Basat, head of the Golani Brigade’s commander’s team.
Ben Basat is the most senior officer to die in Gaza since Israel’s ground offensive began in the enclave. He was set to retire from the army but decided to stay on when war broke out on October 7, Times of Israel reported.
The second officer pronounced dead on Wednesday was named as Sgt. Eran Aloni of the Golani Brigade’s 51st Battalion.
The soldiers were reportedly ambushed in Shujaiya, a suburb of Gaza City. The ambush included gunfire and explosions.
Hamas's armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, had said Tuesday evening that they targeted Israeli forces in Shujaiya and caused casualties, but it was not clear if they were referring to the same incident.
The ambush marked the deadliest day for the Israeli military since their ground invasion of Gaza began, according to Wednesday's statement.
A video shared by Alaraby TV purportedly shows some of the 10 soldiers at a school moments before they were killed.
Translation: The last moments of a battalion commander in the Israeli Golani Brigade before he was killed along with 7 other officers and soldiers in the Shujaiya neighborhood in the northern Gaza Strip.
The latest casualties brings the Israeli military death toll from the ground incursion into Gaza to 115. In total, at least 444 Israeli soldiers have died since October 7, according to official figures, most of them in the October 7 surprise Hamas attack on Israel.
The military had previously claimed that one in five soldiers who have died in Gaza were killed in friendly fire and other accidents, saying that at least 20 soldiers were killed by mistake.
Army casualty figures are subject to strict army censorship, with saying observers saying that the numbers could be significantly higher.
A report in Ynet last week said some 5,000 Israeli forces had been wounded since 7 October, including 2,000 now classified by the army as disabled. The report was later changed, with the Israeli army announcing 1,593 army wounded.
An investigation by Haaretz noted discrepancies between the army figure and reports from Israeli hospitals, putting the figure at over 4,500.
Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment of the Gaza Strip has killed more than 18,000 people since October 7, most of them women and children.
The war has displaced most of Gaza’s 2.3 million population and has brought utter devastation to large parts of the besieged territory.
Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas since the Palestinian group’s attack in southern Israel on October 7, which killed about 1,200 people. Hamas also took more than 200 others captive.
The group says its attack came in response to decades of Israeli brutality against the Palestinian people.
A Qatari, US and Egyptian-mediated truce last month saw Hamas and Israel swap hostages and prisoners, but the pause in hostilities only lasted one week, with Israel resuming bombardment of the Gaza Strip and killing hundreds of people in one day.
More Israeli soldiers have also been killed and wounded on the northern frontier with Lebanon, as cross-border clashes with the Iran-backed Hezbollah group have continued since October 8.
Dozens of the group’s fighters have died, along with some Palestinian Hamas members. Civilians, including journalists, have also been killed by Israeli air strikes and shelling in the south.
It is the worst violence on the Lebanese-Israeli border since the 2006 summer war between Israel and Hezbollah.
(Agencies contributed to this report)