Five Israeli Soldiers Are Killed in Friendly Fire During Fierce Fighting in the Gaza Strip - Latest Global News

Five Israeli Soldiers Are Killed in Friendly Fire During Fierce Fighting in the Gaza Strip

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Five Israeli paratroopers were killed and several injured when an Israeli tank fired on them in the latest friendly-fire incident during the country’s war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

The Israel Defense Forces said Thursday that a tank fired twice at the troops. An initial review found this was likely the result of misidentification during heavy fighting with “Hamas in close combat.” [urban] Area” in Jabalia. IDF troops have returned to the ruins of a refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, just months after Israel declared the area liberated from Hamas militants.

The Palestinian militants “sometimes disguise themselves as…” [Israeli] Soldiers and fighting in civilian buildings,” said a spokesman.

Israeli media said the paratroopers came under fire several hours after they set up a command post in a building and were accompanied by a second group of soldiers. Wednesday night’s incident brought the number of Israeli soldiers killed in accidents, including friendly fire, to 49, from about 280 killed since ground combat operations began in Gaza in late October, the IDF said.

The deaths highlight the challenges for IDF troops targeting Hamas militants in close-quarters fighting in devastated areas of the northern Gaza Strip, with Israeli and international human rights groups criticizing the troops for often opening fire without fully identifying their targets .

An Israeli tank maneuvered in the Gaza Strip near the town of Jabalia earlier this week © Atef Safadi/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The latest friendly fire incident came just days after a tank fired on a UN vehicle in southern Gaza, killing one international worker and seriously wounding a second, according to a person familiar with the incident. That incident, which has strained relations with the United Nations, is also being reviewed, said IDF spokesman Nadav Shoshani.

Over the course of the seven-month conflict with Hamas since its deadly cross-border raid on October 7, the Israeli military has claimed responsibility for several high-profile incidents in which missed shots and violations of its unpublished rules of engagement have claimed the lives of innocent non-combatants.

In April, an Israeli drone strike killed seven foreign aid workers who were part of a World Central Kitchen humanitarian convoy, sparking international condemnation. Last December, Israeli troops on site accidentally shot and killed three Israeli hostages who had managed to escape from Hamas captivity.

Israeli military leaders apologized for both incidents and vowed to tighten their rules of engagement. International aid groups and the UN said the process was still unreliable and had had deadly consequences.

Fighting on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon also escalated, with increased cross-border firefights between the IDF and the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah. Several dozen rockets were fired into Israel’s northern Galilee region and the occupied Golan Heights. Late Wednesday, a drone struck near a military installation about 50 kilometers (30 miles) deep into Israeli territory.

Israel responded with artillery and air strikes on Hezbollah “military posts” in southern Lebanon. A drone strike near the city of Tire earlier this week killed a senior Hezbollah commander, the IDF claimed. There was heavy rocket fire in which an Israeli civilian was killed. Israel responded with airstrikes in the northeastern Bekaa region.

The rise in hostilities on both of Israel’s active fronts comes a day after the country’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lack of war strategy.

In a televised news conference, Gallant criticized the longtime leader’s indecision in creating an alternative governing structure for postwar Gaza that could replace Hamas’ control.

“Without such an alternative, only two negative options remain: Hamas rule in Gaza or Israeli military rule in Gaza,” Gallant said.

Calling Netanyahu by name, Gallant implored the prime minister to “make a decision” and “place national priorities above all other considerations, even at the possibility of personal or political costs.”

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