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May 19, 2024

Deadly Attack in Gaza Inflicts Record Losses, Intensifies Pressure for Ceasefire

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Jan 25, 2024

At least 21 Israeli soldiers were killed and over 50 injured on January 23rd when two buildings collapsed following explosions in Gaza city. The incident marks the highest single-day death toll for Israeli forces since ground operations began nearly two weeks ago.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by Hamas, who say they spent months rigging the abandoned residential buildings with mines and explosives. The devices were detonated remotely when Israeli tanks and personnel gathered around and inside the structures.

The tragic losses have intensified calls within Israel for a ceasefire and negotiations. However Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed to continue the offensive, saying “we will not rest until the Hamas threat is eliminated.”

Timeline of Key Events

| Date | Event |
|-|-
| Jan 10 | Israel launches Operation Protective Shield after weeks of clashes along Gaza border |
| Jan 17 | Ground invasion of Gaza begins, aimed at destroying tunnels and Hamas capabilities |
| Jan 23 | Explosion kills 21 IDF soldiers, heaviest single-day toll for Israel |
| Jan 24 | Israel continues air campaign and shelling of Gaza despite growing pressure for ceasefire |

An Escalating Conflict

Tensions between Israel and militants in Gaza have been building over recent months after various rocket attacks and border clashes. On January 10th Israel launched a large scale aerial bombing campaign dubbed Operation Protective Shield, with the aim of degrading Hamas’ capabilities and destroying attack tunnels.

After over a week of the air campaign, Israel launched a ground invasion into Gaza on January 17th involving tanks, infantry and engineers. The stated goals were to clear a buffer zone and locate and destroy Hamas’ network of underground tunnels, which enable smuggling and militant operations.

The IDF has encountered stiff resistance from Hamas fighters during the ground campaign, with gun battles erupting in Gaza neighborhoods. Hamas has also employed various explosive devices, using years of urban warfare experience.

Rigged Buildings Take Deadly Toll

Early on January 23rd, IDF armored units were operating in central Gaza city when they approached two residential tower blocks believed to have been abandoned. Upon entering, explosives rigged inside the buildings were remotely detonated, causing the structures to catastrophically collapse.

At least 21 soldiers were killed including elite specialized infantry, tank crews and combat engineers. 50 other personnel were wounded with varying degrees of severity. The shocked IDF troops withdrew from the area under covering fire.

In claiming responsibility, a Hamas spokesman described the buildings had been carefully rigged over 6 months as “traps” for IDF forces. The residential towers had been evacuated but were located in a potential battle zone. The homemade explosives were wired to a remote detonator held by militants observing from a distance.

Defense analysts have described the incident as “an extraordinarily well prepared ambush” that exploited the IDF’s standard operating tactics. Armored vehicles are often used to shield infantry entering potentially dangerous buildings. However in this case the plan tragically backfired.

Netanyahu Vows Escalation Despite Mounting Criticism

The grave casualties sparked an immediate debate within Israeli politics and wider society about the conduct and goals of the Gaza offensive. Some commentators argued the losses proved the futility of trying to destroy Hamas militarily without addressing underlying political problems.

“This is the bloody result of a brutal occupation and bombardment of Gaza” said analyst Gideon Levy in Haaretz newspaper. “Bombing homes and people creates hatred. And desperate people take desperate measures.”

However Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly rejected calls for a ceasefire or negotiations with Hamas, seen by Israel as a terrorist organization. In an emergency cabinet meeting, Netanyahu stated that “Israel would respond with overwhelming force” and continue operations “as long as necessary.”

Sources also reported the security cabinet rejected earlier Egyptian-brokered proposals for a mutual de-escalation. Israel had sought the return of captive IDF soldier Yaron Choltz in exchange for easing border restrictions, whereas Hamas insisted on conditions for a complete lifting of the Gaza blockade.

Next Moves Uncertain As Conflict Drags On

It remains unclear whether domestic political blows or international condemnation will change Israel’s stance. The US expressed “strong support” for its ally’s security but also hope the Gaza campaign would wind down soon. Other world powers universally urged restraint and dialogue.

Within the Israeli military, the costly Gaza experience is already provoking deeper thinking. Some officers believe Hamas has evolved advanced urban warfare methods from past conflicts. They argue future strategy should focus more on advanced technology to detect militant operations rather than risky ground incursions.

For now, the IDF campaign shows no signs of slowing. Following the deadly ambush, armored battalions pushed deeper into suburban areas of Gaza but met continued rocket and raiding attacks. Israel also maintains an intensive air and artillery bombardment within the crowded enclave.

With over 200 Palestinians reported killed so far, international organizations warn Gaza risks a devastating humanitarian crisis. The UN has urgently appealed to Israel to open borders for critical supplies.

As the crisis continues with no end in sight, analysts say the recent bloody episode highlights the absence of long term political vision that continues to haunt both sides of this intractable, chronic conflict.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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