Two more Israeli soldiers killed as ground war in Gaza expands

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two more Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza, bringing the number of soldiers killed to five.

2nd Lt. Bar Rahav, 21, a combat engineer, was killed Saturday night when an anti-tank missile was fired at the engineering vehicle he was operating in the Gaza Strip. 1st Sgt. Bnaya Rubel, 20, an infantry combatant was killed Saturday night in a battle in Gaza.

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There currently are 51 Israeli soldiers injured in Gaza in Israeli hospitals, 7 in serious condition, Israel Radio reported Sunday morning.

The ground phase of Operation Protective Edge expanded Saturday night, the IDF said in a statement.

The purpose of the expansion, the IDF said, is “to strike a significant blow to Hamas’ terror capabilities and to restore security and stability to Israel’s residents and citizens.”

The expansion came after a day in which the IDF uncovered and demolished 34 tunnel shafts and about a dozen tunnels intended to be used to carry out terror attacks inside Israel.

Since the start of Operation Protective Edge, the IDF has struck 2,570 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets, and 500 since the start of the ground offensive. More than 1,770 rockets have been launched from Gaza at Israel, with 360 rockets intercepted by the Iron Dome.

Also on Saturday, five trucks of humanitarian aid were transferred into the Gaza Strip, according to Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. The trucks were carrying about 20 tons of medical supplies, including antibiotics, intravenous fluids, personal first aid kits, and blankets.

Meanwhile, the IDF announced Sunday that it would open a field hospital for injured Gazans on the Israeli side of the Erez crossing.

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