5 Israeli soldiers killed by friendly fire in northern Gaza

The Israeli military said Thursday that five soldiers were killed and seven injured in a friendly fire incident in northern Gaza, amid renewed battles in the area against regrouped Hamas militants.

The Israel Defense Forces said it had opened an investigation into the deadly incident, which it said happened when the soldiers were hit by tank cross-fire in Jabalia.

Three of those injured were in serious condition, the IDF added. The troops were members of the 202nd Battalion of the Paratroopers Brigade.

“An initial investigation into the deaths of five IDF soldiers reveals that IDF tanks, located dozens of meters away, identified a weapon and fired shells at an IDF force nearby,” the IDF said in a statement.

“This force had entered the northern part of Gaza and occupied buildings along a logistic route. The tanks fired two shells for unclear reasons, resulting in seven more soldiers being injured, three severely.”

The statement added that the IDF “is probing why the shells were fired and if the soldiers were mistaken for armed militants.”

Seven months into its war aimed at eliminating Hamas, Israeli forces are again engaged in intense fighting in areas of northern Gaza the IDF said earlier had been cleared, renewing doubts over the government’s strategy in the war.

Still, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists on invading Rafah, where his troops have intensified operations since calling on residents of the city’s east to evacuate last week.

At least 600,000 people have been forced to flee parts of Gaza’s southernmost city, where more than one million Palestinians sought shelter, according to the United Nations.

The slow increase in aid flowing into the strip over recent months could also be wiped out due to Israel’s assault on Rafah, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday, with one critical aid crossing shut and another restricted.

The U.S. Central Command said early Thursday it had successfully anchored a temporary humanitarian pier to a beach in Gaza to increase the flow of aid.

“Trucks carrying humanitarian assistance are expected to begin moving ashore in the coming days,” it said in a post on X.

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