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    5 Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza by their own army’s tank fire

    The Israel Defense Forces said five of its soldiers, all between 20 and 22 years old, were killed by Israeli tank fire in northern Gaza on Wednesday evening. An initial internal investigation found that two tanks fired at a building in the Jabalia refugee camp where the soldiers had gathered. The building was being used by the deputy commander of the battalion, according to an IDF statement.

    “It appears that the tank fighters, from the ultra-Orthodox paratrooper company ‘Hatz,’ identified a barrel of a weapon coming out of one of the windows in the building, and directed each other to shoot at the building,” the IDF statement said.

    “This is a very difficult incident, the work environment is under very complex operational stress and in a very crowded area,” IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said on Thursday. “We are in the middle of the investigation, we will learn the lessons. Maintaining the security of our forces is a central task.”

    The incident came as Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, after a situational assessment at the Gaza border in Rafah, said more Israeli troops would be entering Gaza.

    “Several tunnels in the area have been destroyed by our troops and additional tunnels will be destroyed soon,” Gallant said Wednesday. “This activity will intensify – Hamas is not an organization that can reorganize, it does not have reserve troops, it has no supply stocks and no ability to treat the terrorists that we target. The result is that we are wearing Hamas down.”

    Israeli defense chief calls for “day after” plan in Gaza 

    As IDF operations continued, Gallant publicly challenged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week about his post-war plans for the Gaza Strip.

    In addition to military action, Gallant said in a televised statement that “the establishment of a governing alternative in Gaza” in the wake of almost 20 years of Hamas rule was also crucial to Israel’s stated objective of dismantling the group. “In the absence of such an alternative, only two negative options remain: Hamas’ rule in Gaza or Israeli military rule in Gaza.” 

    Gallant said he would oppose the latter scenario and urged Netanyahu to formally rule it out.

    He said he had been trying to promote a plan to create a “non-hostile Palestinian governing alternative” to Hamas since October, but that he’d received no response from the Israeli cabinet.

    Gallant has previously suggested the Palestinian Authority (PA), which administers the Israeli-occupied West Bank, could have a role in governing Gaza after the war. Netanyahu has dismissed that suggestion, also floated by the United States, as have various members of the PA.

    On Tuesday, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari was asked if the lack of a post-war strategy for Gaza was hindering military operations there.

    “There is no doubt that an alternative to Hamas would generate pressure on Hamas, but that’s a question for the government echelon,” he said.



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