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Four Israeli soldiers killed in Rafah ambush

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Militants blew up a building housing Israeli troops in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, killing four Israeli soldiers and injuring several others, the Israeli military said on Tuesday.

The military said some soldiers were in critical condition after Monday’s attack. Israeli public broadcaster Kan said five soldiers had been hospitalized, two of them in intensive care.

The Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, said in a statement that they had planted a bomb in the building where the soldiers were operating. “Our fighters blew up a house filled with explosives where Zionist militants were stationed,” the statement said.

Kan said the ambush was apparently aimed at Israeli reconnaissance forces as they were scouting a shaft inside a three-story building that the soldiers believed was a tunnel. Israeli troops in Gaza have been working to destroy tunnels used by Hamas militants.

After the explosives exploded, Hamas forces attacked with mortars as Israeli troops tried to evacuate the dead and wounded, according to the group and the Israeli military.

Fighting has been sporadic in Rafah since Israeli soldiers entered the southern city in early May despite strong international opposition. For months, Rafah has been home to more than half of Gaza’s population. The Israeli army has directed people to seek refuge in Rafah to escape fighting elsewhere in the region.

Since Israel’s invasion of Rafah, many displaced Palestinians have fled to central Gaza, which has been the scene of clashes and heavy bombing since Israel announced a new military operation in Gaza last week. More than 200 Gazans were killed in the central city of Nusserat on Saturday, according to health authorities. Four Israeli hostages rescued in Israeli military operation.

According to the Israeli military, 298 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the eight months since Israel launched its offensive on Gaza in retaliation for a Hamas attack on Oct. 7. The death toll among Gazans is many times higher: more than 36,000, local health authorities say, a figure that does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Myra Novick Contributed reporting.

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