London: Twenty-four Israeli soldiers were killed during intense fighting in Gaza in the last 24 hours, the military said on Tuesday, marking the highest one-day Israeli death toll since fighting began in the enclave.
Israel launched an offensive last week to capture Khan Younis, which it now says is the principal headquarters of the Hamas militants responsible for the October 7 attacks on southern Israel that killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli tallies.
Military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that 21 soldiers were killed when a rocket-propelled grenade hit a tank that was guarding Israeli forces. At the same time, an explosion occurred in two, two-storey buildings where forces had planted explosives in order to destroy the buildings. The explosion triggered their collapse onto the Israeli soldiers.
"We are still studying and investigating the details of the event and the reasons for the explosion," Hagari told an early morning press briefing.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog released a statement, on what he said was an "unbearably difficult morning"
"On behalf of the entire nation, I console the families and pray for the healing of the wounded. Even on this sad and difficult morning, we are strong and remember that together we will win," he said.
Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that rules Gaza and is sworn to Israel's destruction.
At least 25,295 Gazans have been killed since October 7, Gaza health authorities said in an update on Monday.