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21 Israeli soldiers killed in biggest single loss in Southern Gaza

In the biggest single loss of life for Israeli troops since the war with Hamas began, 21 Israeli soldiers were killed during fighting in southern Gaza on Monday, the military said.

In a televised statement on Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said a tank that was protecting Israeli troops was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).

Israeli media reported that two soldiers in the tank were killed.

Simultaneously, two two-story buildings collapsed on soldiers following an explosion. Most of the Israeli forces killed were in or near the buildings, he said.

“The buildings probably exploded because of the mines that our forces laid there, in preparation to demolish them and the infrastructure around,” Hagari said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the deaths of the soldiers represented “one of the most difficult days since the outbreak of the war.”

In a post on X, Netanyahu said: “I wish to strengthen the dear families of our heroic warriors who fell on the battlefield. I know that for these families, their lives will be changed forever.”

“I mourn for our fallen heroic soldiers. I hug the families in their time of need and we all pray for the peace of our wounded.” Netanyahu said the IDF had launched an investigation into the incident.

The IDF spokesperson told CNN Tuesday that it is “still not clear” what caused the building explosion.

All families have been notified but only 10 names have been released so far, he said.

Another soldier was seriously injured in the same incident, Hagari added.

The Israeli military’s large-scale bombing campaign in Gaza has been ongoing since the October 7 murder and kidnapping rampage by Hamas gunmen that saw some 1,200 people killed in Israel and more than 250 taken hostage, more than 130 of whom are still in captivity, alive or dead.

The IDF released the names of 10 soldiers of the 21 who were killed:

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Matan Lazar, 32, from Haifa, a soldier from the IDF’s 6261 Battalion, 261’s Brigade.Maj.-Gen. (res.) Hadar Kapeluk, 23, from Moshav Mevo Beitar, and was a Class Commander in the IDF’s 8208 Battalion, 261st Brigade. Sgt.-Maj. (res.) Sergey Gontmaher, 37, from Ramat Gan, who was a soldier in the IDF’s 8208 Battalion, 261st Brigade. Maj. (res.) Elkana Yehuda Sfez, 25, from Kiryat Arba, was a soldier in the 8208 Battalion, 261st Brigade. St.-Sgt. (res.) Yoval Lopez, 27, from the settlement Alon Shvut in the West Bank, a soldier in the 9206 Battalion, 205th Brigade. Maj. (res.) Yoav Levi, 29, from the city Yehud-Monoson in central Israel, who was a soldier in Battalion 8208, 261st Brigade. Maj. (res.) Nicholas Berger, 22, from Jerusalem, who was a soldier in the 8208 Battalion, 261st Brigade. Maj. (res.) Cydrick Garin, 23, from Tel Aviv-Yafo, who was a soldier in the 8208 Battalion, 261st Brigade. St.-Sgt. (res.) Rafael Elias Mosheyoff, 33, from the town Pardes Hanna-Karkur near Haifa, was a soldier in the 6261 Battalion, 261st Brigade. St.-Sgt. (res.) Barak Haim Ben Valid, 33, from Rishon Lezion, class commander in Battalion 6261, Brigade 261.

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