The Israeli military on Tuesday suffered one of its highest single-day casualty counts since Israel began its ground invasion of Gaza in late October: Ten soldiers were killed in combat in the north of the enclave, the military said.

Israeli military radio reported that nine of the soldiers had been killed in heavy fighting in Shajaiye, a neighborhood in Gaza City that has been a focus of combat in recent days as the military pushes to root out Hamas fighters from the enclave.

The military said that the soldiers had been killed during an “advanced stage of our efforts to clear the area of Hamas.” It said they had died while trying to rescue injured soldiers who had lost contact with their unit after coming under fire in a building the military described as residential with a tunnel opening on its premises.

Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni, a retired former commander of the Israel military’s Gaza division who operated in Shajaiye in the early 2000s, said that fighting in the neighborhood was problematic because of the densely packed buildings. In addition, he said, “rescue missions are always trickier, because you take bigger risks to save your soldiers.”

Israel’s account could not be independently confirmed. Hamas said in a statement on the Telegram app that the Israeli military’s announcement confirmed “the failure of the entities’ leaders and its army in its confrontation with the Qassam Brigades’ strong resistance.”

Most of the casualties on Tuesday were infantry fighters, but they also included a colonel and a lieutenant colonel, the highest-ranking Israeli officers killed since the invasion began, according to the Israeli military.

Although Israel has extended its ground invasion into southern Gaza this month, heavy fighting is ongoing in northern Gaza. Since the Hamas-led Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel, which Israeli officials say killed 1,200 people, 444 Israeli soldiers have lost their lives, according to the country’s military. About a quarter of those casualties have occurred since Israel started its ground invasion, the military said.

At the same time, over 15,000 Palestinians, many of them women and children, have died amid Israel’s retaliatory military campaign, according to the Gazan health ministry. Gazan health officials do not distinguish between civilians and Hamas fighters in their death tolls.

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