Eight Israeli soldiers killed after their vehicle exploded following overnight operation in Rafah

Israeli operations in Rafah. (Israeli Army/AFP via Getty Image)
Israeli operations in Rafah. (Israeli Army/AFP via Getty Image)

Eight Israeli soldiers have been killed in southern Gaza one of the deadliest incidents for the country’s military in its war against Hamas.

The troops were all killed inside a Namer armored combat engineering vehicle (CEV), according to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

The soldiers had been driving in a convoy at around 5am on Saturday following an overnight offensive in Rafah’s Tel Sultan neighborhood.

Soldiers from the 401st Armoured Brigade killed around 50 gunmen in the assault, according to the IDF.

The convoy was heading to buildings where the troops to rest following the overnight operation when an explosion ripped through the vehicle.

The Namer CEV was the fifth or sixth vehicle in the convoy while the IDF has not confirmed if the explosive was a roadside bomb or if Hamas fighters had attacked the convoy.

One of the dead soldiers has been named as Captain Wassem Mahmoud, 23, a deputy company commander in the Combat Engineering Corps’ 601st Battalion from Beit Jann, according to the Times of Israel.

The families of the other seven soldiers have been notified.

The military is investigating the possibility that explosives stored on the outside of the CEV contributed to the blast.

There was no gunfire during the incident, and the vehicle was not at a standstill when the blast occurred, a probe by the IDF has concluded.

Their deaths bring the death toll IDF soldiers in the ground offensive against Hamas along the Gaza border to 307.

The incident which claimed the lives of most Israeli soldiers in one day in Gaza occurred in January when 21 were killed in a blast following Hamas RPG fire that caused two buildings to collapse.

Meanwhile the Palestinian death toll has risen above 37,000 since Israel’s assault on Gaza prompted by the October 7 attacks by Hamas. The figures come from the Hamas run heath ministry in Gaza.