The Israeli army announced on Tuesday the death of 24 soldiers in the Gaza Strip, the worst loss of its troops since the start of the ground operation against the Palestinian territory.
The Israeli government is under increasing pressure to find a way out of the conflict and, according to an American media outlet, has presented an agreement proposal considering a two-month ceasefire.
The Israeli army lost 24 soldiers in Gaza on Monday. His spokesman, General Daniel Hagari, explained that 21 people died when an anti-tank rocket hit an armored vehicle and two buildings that his troops mined for demolition.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the military has launched an investigation. “We must learn the necessary lessons and do everything to preserve the lives of our fighters,” he said in a statement.
The event could further increase the pressure on his government, said Israela Oron, an analyst at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. “Everyone is mourning the soldiers this morning and I think people will ask for a clear answer about the purpose and purpose of this operation in Gaza,” he said.
In recent weeks, fighting has concentrated in the south of Palestinian territory ruled by Hamas.
The Israeli army said on Tuesday that its forces had “surrounded” Khan Younis and “deepened” their operations in the densely populated city, which had killed dozens of Islamist militants in the past 24 hours.
Witnesses reported heavy explosions in this city, the most populous in southern Gaza, as well as in Deir al Balah, in the north of the territory, and in Rafah, in the far south.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that Israeli forces attacked its offices in Khan Younis “with artillery”, causing “injuries to internally displaced persons” who had taken shelter in its facilities.
UN agencies and humanitarian organizations have warned of a growing risk of disease and starvation in Gaza, where the war has displaced an estimated 1.7 million people.
The war in Gaza erupted in an attack by the Islamist movement Hamas against southern Israel, which left about 1,140 dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.
In response, Israel launched an air and ground offensive against this territory that killed 25,490 people, mostly women and minors, according to the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health.
In their attack, Hamas militants also kidnapped 250 people, of which 132 remained in Gaza, according to Israel. This figure includes the bodies of at least 28 dead hostages, according to an AFP report based on Israeli figures.
About a hundred hostages, including foreigners, were released during a week-long ceasefire in November in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israel.
Relatives of Gaza hostages disrupted a parliamentary committee meeting on Monday to call for urgent action. “They are sitting there while our children are dying there,” shouted Gilad Korngold, father of hostage Tal Shoham.
The White House coordinator for the Middle East, Brett McGurk, traveled to Egypt and Qatar to try to close a new agreement on free hostages.
The American media Axios reported on Monday that Israel, through Qatari and Egyptian mediators, would have proposed a new agreement with Hamas to release all the hostages.
The information, citing anonymous Israeli officials, indicates that the plan has several phases and will last for two months. The proposal, according to Axios, also contemplates the release of Palestinian prisoners and a reduction in the presence of Israeli troops in major cities in Gaza.
The United States and the European Union are pressing Israel to accept a long-term solution based on the creation of a viable Palestinian state, something that Netanyahu strongly opposes.
In Brussels, after a meeting of EU foreign ministers, the Israeli foreign minister ignored reporters’ questions about the future two-state solution and said his country is focused on saving of the hostages and ensure their safety.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, who also participated in the meeting, assured that Israel’s rejection of “a two-state solution condemns the future of the region to more conflicts.”
The war in Gaza is fueling tensions in the region. In Lebanon, the Islamist movement Hezbollah announced on Tuesday a missile attack against an army command center in northern Israel. And in Yemen, the United States and the United Kingdom launched new bombings on Monday against the positions of the Houthi rebels, who have been launching attacks against maritime trade for months.