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8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza

Months of cease-fire negotiations have failed to find common ground between Israel and Hamas.
Israel Palestinians
Posted at 1:16 PM, Jun 15, 2024

Israel's military said Saturday that eight soldiers were killed in southern Gaza in the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

The troops were killed in an explosion, the army said, without elaborating. The deaths will likely fuel calls for a cease-fire and heighten Israeli public anger over ultra-Orthodox exemptions from the military.

In January, 21 Israeli troops were killed in a single attack by Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Last month, Israel's Supreme Court ordered an end to government subsidies for many ultra-Orthodox men who don't serve in the army. A new draft law hasn't been passed, but the coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week voted in favor of extending exemptions for religious men. Although the vote was only procedural, it caused an uproar by being approved during a war in which hundreds of soldiers have died and many others remain inside Gaza or on the front lines against Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.

Yoav Gallant, Israel's Defense Minister and member of the country's War Cabinet has insisted that all sectors of Israeli society should contribute equally during its war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Israel's coalition government contains a powerful bloc of ultra-Orthodox parties that have been longtime partners of Netanyahu. If these parties leave the government, the country would be forced into new elections, with Netanyahu trailing significantly in the polls amid the war.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a press conference in Qatar.

Israel at War

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Scripps News Staff
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In Tel Aviv, anti-government protests have been ongoing for months, with many demonstrators calling for the immediate return of the hostages, along with Netanyahu's resignation.

Israel's bombardment and ground offensives in Gaza have killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to Palestinian health officials, who don't give the breakdown of civilians and fighters. The war has also driven about 80% of the population of 2.3 million from their homes, and Israeli restrictions and ongoing fighting have hindered efforts to bring in humanitarian aid, fueling widespread hunger.

Israel launched its campaign after Hamas and other militants stormed into Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 250 hostages. More than 100 hostages were released during a weeklong cease-fire last year in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. Hamas is believed to be holding around 80 hostages and the remains of another 40.

Months of cease-fire negotiations have failed to find common ground between Israel and Hamas. On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Hamas proposed changes to a U.S.-backed plan, some of which he said were "workable" and some not.

Hamas has continually called for a permanent cease-fire and complete Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza as part of any deal that would see the hostages released. While the proposal announced by U.S. President Joe Biden includes these two provisions, Hamas has expressed concern about whether Israel will commit to them.

Violence has flared in the West Bank since the Israel-Hamas war erupted. On Saturday, a 16-year-old Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli forces near the northern city of Nablus, the Ramallah-based Health Ministry said. The Israeli army didn't immediately respond to requests for comment about the shooting.