5 Israeli soldiers killed in friendly fire incident in northern Gaza

Israeli tank fire has killed five Israeli soldiers in Gaza, a military spokesman said on Thursday, in the latest incident with self-inflicted casualties since Israel launched a ground invasion of the enclave in October.

Lieutenant Colonel Nadav Shoshani, an Israeli army spokesman, said at a news conference that the men were killed by tank fire on Wednesday as they were fighting in a densely populated area of ​​the territory.

“There was a friendly fire incident: five soldiers were killed,” he said, adding: “The incident is under review.”

The Jerusalem Post reported that the men had been killed in Gaza City, in the territory's north, and that seven soldiers were also wounded when two tanks opened fire. The Israeli army later named the five, who belonged to the Parachute Brigade, on its website.

The bulk of Israeli forces began withdrawing from northern Gaza earlier this year, with Israel claiming to have defeated Hamas battalions in the area. But in recent weeks, Israeli troops have returned to the north, including Gaza City, to fight Hamas fighters who they say have regrouped.

Some 278 Israeli soldiers have died in Gaza since the military offensive began more than seven months ago, the military said. In December it was said that a fifth of the 105 soldiers killed up to that point had died in accidents and that, of these deaths, 13 were the result of friendly fire.

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