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Five more IDF soldiers killed in Gaza, bringing painful count to 9 in one day

6 soldiers died in blast caused by explosives meant for tunnel destruction

9 Israeli soldiers the IDF announced were killed in Gaza on Jan. 9, 2024 (Photo: IDF)

Israel Defense Forces announced the deaths of five more soldiers on Tuesday, bringing the total count to nine fallen soldiers over the last 24 hours of fighting, even as Israeli officials declared that the war was transitioning to a less intense phase.

Six of the soldiers, all combat engineers, died in a single incident when a truck carrying explosives meant for the destruction of a tunnel in Gaza’s al-Bureij camp detonated.

A group of journalists who were nearby on a tour of a newly discovered weapon factory witnessed the blast, with several of them reporting on Tuesday that they heard officers declare a mass casualty incident over the radio on their way back out of the Strip.

The army is still investigating if the explosion was caused by a technical failure or if terrorists activated an explosive charge.

Five of the fallen soldiers served in the elite combat engineering commando unit Yahalom, which is tasked with clearing and demolishing Hamas’ terror tunnel network.

They were named as Sgt. First Class (res.) Gavriel Bloom (27); Master Sgt. (res.) Amit Moshe Shahar (25); Cpt. (res.) Denis Krokhmalov Veksler (32); Cpt. (res.) Ron Efrimi (26); and Master Sgt. (res.) Roi Avraham Maimon (24).

In addition, Sgt. Maj. (res.) Akiva Yasinskiy (35), who served in the Etzioni Brigade’s engineering battalion was killed in the same incident.

Several additional soldiers were injured in the explosion, some of them seriously, and are still being treated in hospitals.

Among them is the Israeli actor and singer Idan Amedi, internationally known for playing the Israeli undercover soldier Sagi in the hit series Fauda on Netflix.

Yesterday, the IDF announced the deaths of four more IDF soldiers, bringing the count to 9 fallen troops during the last 24 hours in what has become one of the days with the highest number of casualties since the war began in early October.

The IDF’s ground operation inside the Gaza Strip has resulted in the deaths of 185 Israeli soldiers.

When added to the number of soldiers who fell during the initial battles against Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, the total number of soldiers who have lost their lives during the Iron Swords War rises to 519.

This bloody day comes amid U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to Israel and the IDF spokesman's announcement that the war in the Gaza Strip was entering a less intensive phase.

However, as IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Daniel Hagari explained on Monday, terror operatives and booby-traps remain throughout the Gaza Strip, including in areas that have been declared relatively safe.

The transition to a less intensive phase of the war with fewer airstrikes and artillery fire may provoke anger and resistance among the Israeli public if IDF soldiers continue to be severely wounded and killed while Israel’s operational goals still aren’t reached.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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