IDF: Deaths of 20 out of 105 soldiers killed in Gaza op were friendly fire, accidents

13 troops killed by strikes, gunfire due to mistaken identification; seven others in accidents, some involving armored vehicles

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip in an undated photograph released December 12, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip in an undated photograph released December 12, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)

Of the 105 Israeli soldiers killed to date in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s ground offensive against Hamas, which began in late October, 20 were killed by so-called friendly fire and other accidents, according to new data released by the IDF on Tuesday.

Thirteen of the soldiers were killed by friendly fire due to mistaken identification in airstrikes, tank shelling, and gunfire.

One soldier was killed by gunfire that was unintended to hit them, and another two were killed by accidental misfires.

Two soldiers were killed in incidents involving armored vehicles running over troops.

And two soldiers were killed by shrapnel, including from explosives set off by Israeli forces.

The IDF has assessed that myriad reasons have led to the deadly accidents, including the large number of forces operating in Gaza, communication issues between forces, and soldiers being tired and not paying attention to regulations.

Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip in an undated photograph released December 11, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)

There are currently thousands of infantry forces, tanks, and other troops in Gaza taking part in Israel’s ground offensive against Hamas, operating in Gaza City’s dense neighborhoods.

The military has said it is constantly assessing the ongoing fighting, including the cases of friendly fire, and quickly implementing lessons learned.

Still, the IDF has repeatedly praised cooperation between different branches of the military, especially aircraft providing air support to troops on the ground.

The IDF has announced the deaths of 105 soldiers who have been killed in Gaza since the start of the ground incursion on October 27.

Another 582 soldiers have been wounded in the ground operation — including 133 seriously wounded, 218 moderately, and 231 lightly, according to IDF data from Monday.

Unit 669 carries out a medical evacuation from the Gaza Strip during Israel’s ground offensive, in an image published November 13, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The ground operation followed three weeks of aerial bombardments in the wake of the Hamas-led massacres on October 7, when Palestinian terrorists stormed the border into southern Israel and killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and kidnapped at least 240.

Israel declared war on Hamas in response, launching an offensive aimed at toppling the Gaza-ruling terror group and securing the release of the hostages. The ground operation initially concentrated on northern Gaza but has since expanded to the Strip’s south.

It is believed that 138 hostages remain in Gaza after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November. Four hostages were released prior to that, and one was rescued by troops. In recent days, the IDF has confirmed the deaths of 18 of those still held by Hamas, due to new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has claimed that since the start of the war, more than 17,500 people have been killed, mostly civilians. However, these figures cannot be independently verified and are believed to include some 7,000 Hamas terrorists, as well as civilians killed by misfired Palestinian rockets. Another estimated 1,000 terrorists were killed in Israel during the October 7 onslaught.

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