Booby-trapped tunnel shaft that killed 3 was in medical clinic

IDF soldier killed in Gaza; Israel: 300 terrorists killed in Rafah since start of op

Death of Yedidya Azugi brings army’s ground op toll to 292; US says Israeli takeover of Gaza-Egypt border is in line with limited offensive it is willing to support

Staff Sgt. Yedidya Azugi, who was killed in battle in northern Gaza. (Israel Defense Forces)
Staff Sgt. Yedidya Azugi, who was killed in battle in northern Gaza. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli military said Thursday that a soldier was killed in Gaza fighting, as it continued to pound the Strip and said 300 terror operatives had been killed since an incursion was launched into its southern city of Rafah.

Staff Sgt. Yedidya Azugi, 21, of the Paratrooper Brigade’s 101st Battalion, from Revava, was killed while fighting Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces announced, raising the army’s death toll in Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza to 292.

The IDF said it had carried out over 50 airstrikes throughout Gaza over the past day, including an attack that killed two terror operatives seen leaving a building in northern Gaza where shells had been launched toward Israeli troops.

In northern Gaza, the army said troops were continuing to operate in the heart of Jabaliya, where they were finding weapons and engaging Gazan fighters attacking them.

An AFP correspondent reported artillery and gunfire in Gaza City’s southern neighborhood of Zeitoun, where witnesses said thick plumes of smoke rose over Jabaliya and Beit Lahiya.

Troops were also operating in central Gaza, where they found an arms cache, the IDF said.

In the southern city of Rafah, soldiers uncovered tunnel shafts, an ammunition depot, anti-tank missile launchers, explosives, and other unspecified arms, the IDF said Thursday.

IDF soldiers operating in Gaza in a photo released by the military on May 29, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Also in Rafah, an airstrike was called in on three terror operatives who opened fire on troops, and residents reported intense artillery shelling and gunfire.

Troops have killed around 300 terror operatives since the operation in Rafah was launched on May 6, government spokesperson David Mencer said.

The IDF also announced Thursday that a booby-trapped tunnel shaft that killed three soldiers in Rafah on Tuesday was located inside a medical clinic.

The military said that forces had come under anti-tank missile fire from an UNRWA school in Rafah, and in response launched a raid against the building and an adjacent mosque and clinic.

During searches in the area, a booby-trapped tunnel was discovered inside the clinic, which then exploded, killing three soldiers of the Nahal Brigade’s 50th Battalion.

The IDF said troops also found a cache of weapons, as well as additional tunnel shafts, inside the UNRWA school complex, including within the classrooms.

A handout photo released by the IDF on May 30, 2024 appearing to show a Rafah tunnel it says was booby-trapped, causing the deaths of three soldiers. (Israel Defense Forces)

Meanwhile, terror groups in Gaza were showing they are still capable of attacking Israeli territory, as rocket sirens were triggered in Nirim near the Gaza border on Thursday morning.

Army Radio reported that a single projectile was launched from Khan Younis and landed in an uninhabited area.

The alarm was the first to sound in southern Israel since a Tuesday night alert in Mefalsim.

The IDF’s incursion into Rafah — believed to be Hamas’s last major stronghold — has sparked international controversy since over a million civilians had been sheltering there before it was launched. However, after the military announced that the Philadelphi Route along Gaza’s border with Egypt had been captured, the US said it did not object to this.

“When [Israel] briefed us on their plans for Rafah, it did include moving along that corridor and out of the city proper to put pressure on Hamas in the city,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters in a briefing.

Kirby declined to confirm if Israel had indeed seized all of the Philadelphi Route, saying: “It’s not our op.”

However, he said the move was consistent with the “limited” ground operation that Israeli officials had briefed the US on ahead of time.

US President Joe Biden warned earlier this month that he would halt certain offensive weapons shipments to Israel if the IDF launched a major military offensive in populated parts of Gaza’s southernmost city.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

War broke out on October 7 between Israel and Hamas when Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel, killing some 1,200 people and kidnapping 252 while committing widespread atrocities and sexual assaults.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 36,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far, though only some 24,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals. The toll, which cannot be verified, includes some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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