Five Israeli soldiers have been killed in clashes with a Palestinian commando that tried to reach Israeli through a tunnel near the border with Gaza, the army said in a statement on Tuesday.
The incident on Monday raised to 10 the number of military fatalities for the day, according to Reuters. Fifty-three Israeli soldiers have been killed since Israel launched its offensive on Gaza.
“Infantry soldier Daniel Kedmi, 18; Barkey Ishai Shor, 21; Sagi Erez, 19; and Dor Dery, 18, were killed in this attempted attack,” said a military statement. The name of the fifth soldier cannot be made public, it added.
Meanwhile, eleven people were killed in a strike on a house in the Bureij refugee camp in Gaza City as Israeli forces hit targets across the territory in the most widespread night of attacks so far in the coastal enclave.
Israeli aircraft fired a missile at the house of Hamas Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh before dawn on Tuesday, causing damage but no casualties, Gaza’s interior ministry said.
An Israeli military spokeswoman had no information on the report but was checking for details.
Israel launched its Gaza offensive on July 8, saying its aim was to stop rocket fired by Hamas and its allies. A land invasion followed to find and destroy the warren of Hamas tunnels that crisscrosses the border area.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Monday of a prolonged war in Gaza, eliminating hopes of a hasty end to the three-week conflict.
In interviews on Monday, he said that the new objective of the military offensive is to “demilitarize” the Gaza strip.
Rockets from Gaza were fired into southern and central Israel on Monday, some reaching the Tel Aviv area. Israel’s iron dome system intercepted at least one of the rockets, no deaths or damage were reported.
Monday night witnessed a Gaza sky illuminated by Israeli flares as thousands were warned to evacuate their homes, a prelude to major army strikes.
The conflict, which enters its 22nd day, has claimed the lives of 1,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians. 48 Israeli soldiers have been killed, in addition to three civilians.