Thirteen Israeli soldiers were killed overnight and early Sunday in several clashes with Palestinian militants amid the military’s ground incursion in the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said.
Seven soldiers were killed when their armoured personnel vehicle was hit by anti-tank missiles overnight, Xinhua reported citing Walla! news website.
Shortly afterwards, at 1.20 a.m., one soldier was killed in a fire exchange. Less than an hour later, another Israeli soldier was killed and one soldier was seriously injured in another fire exchange with militants.
In another incident, an anti-tank missile was fired at an Israeli tank, killing three soldiers. Another soldier was killed in a separate incident, the details of which are currently not known.
Dozens of other soldiers were hospitalised in hospitals throughout the country.
At least 112 of the dead are children and teenagers, 45 are women and 25 are elderly people, Gaza Strip emergency services spokesperson Ahraf el Qadra said.
The largest number of deaths so far took place in the Shahaiya neighbourhood in eastern Gaza, where at least 62 people died and more than 200 others were wounded Sunday in Israeli bombings that lasted until nightfall.
The bodies were recovered after the warring sides – at the urging of the Red Cross – agreed to temporarily cease hostilities and observe a five-hour humanitarian window to allow those able to do so to flee the zone and emergency crews to enter and collect the dead and wounded.
Officials in Israel, meanwhile, said that at least 13 Israeli soldiers, evidently including two top officers with the Golani brigade, died in fighting that took place early Sunday in Shahaiya.
The information has not been officially released in Israel, where it is customary to inform the families of the casualties before making their names public.
Hamas fighters apparently laid a “trap” for the army, luring them to Shahaiya, officials said.
Other officials said that at least some of the victims were killed when a modern anti-tank rocket hit their armoured vehicle.