International

Israel-Gaza War: Ambush Kills 7 Israeli Soldiers In Gaza, Battles Rage Into Devastating Offensive

Israeli ground troops are still locked in heavy combat with Palestinian fighters in and around Gaza City, more than six weeks after soldiers invaded the north.

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At least seven Israeli soldiers were killed in an ambush in Gaza City, Israeli media reported Wednesday, as the army continued to meet heavy resistance in an offensive against Hamas that has drawn international outrage and rare US criticism over the killing of thousands of civilians.

President Joe Biden's administration has repeatedly called on Israel to take greater measures to spare Palestinians civilians, even as it has blocked international calls for a cease-fire and rushed military aid to its close ally. Israel has rejected US suggestions for a postwar plan that would revive the long-dormant peace process with the Palestinians.

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The air and ground offensive has resulted in the deaths of over 18,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, since the Oct 7 attack by Hamas that triggered the war. Nearly 85% of Gaza's population of 2.3 million have been forced to flee their homes, and much of northern Gaza resembles a moonscape.

Israeli ground troops are still locked in heavy combat with Palestinian fighters in and around Gaza City, more than six weeks after soldiers invaded the north. Clashes raged overnight and into Wednesday in multiple areas, with especially heavy fighting in Shijaiyah, residents said.

“It's terrifying. We couldn't sleep,” Mustafa Abu Taha, a Palestinian agricultural worker who lives in the neighbourhood, said by phone. “The situation is getting worse and we don't have a safe place to go.”

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The military said a total of eight soldiers were killed on Tuesday. Israeli media said the ambush that killed seven took place in the Gaza City neighbourhood of Shijaiyah, involving gunfire and several explosions. The same dense neighbourhood was the scene of one of the biggest battles of an earlier war in Gaza.

Suffering in South

Hundreds of thousands of people have heeded Israeli orders to flee to southern Gaza since the start of the war, but that region has also come under repeated aerial bombardment.

The health care system and humanitarian aid operations have collapsed in large parts of Gaza because of the fighting and Israel's blockade of the territory, and aid workers have warned of starvation and the spread of disease among displaced people in overcrowded shelters and tent camps.

Heavy rainfall overnight swamped tent camps, including in the southern area of Muwasi, a barren stretch of coastline where Israel has told people to seek refuge.

Israeli strikes overnight hit two residential buildings in the southern province of Khan Younis, where Israeli ground forces had launched a new line of attack earlier this month.

A strike on a home near the main highway between Khan Younis and the southern border town of Rafah killed two boys, aged 2 and 8, a woman in her 80s and a woman in her 30s, according to Mohammed al-Beiyouk, a cousin of the deceased. Another strike killed a baby and his grandfather, according to hospital records at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.

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The military rarely comments on individual strikes. Israel says it tries to avoid harming civilians and blames the high toll on Hamas because it conceals fighters, tunnels and weapons in residential areas.

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