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July 20, 2014 10:16 am
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IDF Confirms: 13 More Israeli Soldiers Killed in Gaza Fighting

avatar by Dave Bender

IDF troops. Photo: Israel Defense Forces.

The Israeli Army on Sunday confirmed the deaths of 13 soldiers in several firefights against Hamas in Gaza overnight.

The IDF said it would complete the identification of the fallen Golani Mountain Brigade troops and inform their families before releasing their names, army radio said.

‘We know that in battle there are casualties. We also know that our role is to fulfill missions … There have been tough battles, but we are determined to stand by our mission,” IDF Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said soon after the report was released.

Several dozen other Israeli troops were wounded in the clashes, and are hospitalized at several medical centers.

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The latest deaths bring the toll of fallen Israeli soldiers to 18, including five killed in fierce fighting on Saturday.

Hamas’ Izzadin al-Qassam told Al Jazeera on Sunday said several of the soldiers died in an early morning anti-tank “ambush” in the Shuja’iya area of central Gaza.

France’s Le Figaro said that a tank was hit by a Sagger missile, in an unconfirmed report.

IDF air and ground forces are pounding the area, which Israel says is a Hamas operational stronghold, and the origin of some 140 rockets fired into Israel in recent days. Unconfirmed Palestinian medical sources are reporting at least 60 dead and hundreds of wounded in the wake of fighting and Israeli air strikes.

On the other side of the border, the IDF is setting up a field hospital to treat Palestinians fleeing the battles, and Israeli hospitals in Ashkelon, Beersheba, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and elsewhere are on triage alert for heavy IDF casualties, according to the Israeli Ma’ariv website.

“The staff is receiving medivac’ed wounded, and we’re prepared,” the director of Soroka Hospital in Beersheba told reporters, adding that they have admitted 22 soldiers, two of them in serious condition.

Eralier on Sunday, the IDF acceded to a humanitarian cease-fire, requested by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to enable Palestinians to treat their casualties.

However, “In the last 2 hours, when we agreed to the Red Cross’ request for a ceasefire in Shuja’iya, Hamas opened fire from near Wafa Hospital,” the IDF Spokesman said.

“Due to @ICRC_ilot request,cease fire in #Shujaia is extended until 1730 for humanitarian & medical assistance & to enable civilians to leave,” IDF Spokesman Peter Lerner said in a tweet.

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