Israeli Military Says Tank Fire Killed 5 of Its Own Soldiers

Israeli tank fire killed five of Israel’s own soldiers in Gaza, a military spokesman said on Thursday, in the latest incident of so-called friendly fire since Israel invaded the enclave in October.

Lt. Col. Nadav Shoshani, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said at a news briefing that the men had been killed by tank fire on Wednesday as they were fighting in a densely populated area of the territory.

“There was an incident of friendly fire — 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 north of the territory, and that seven soldiers had also been wounded when two tanks opened fire. The Israeli military later named the five, who were from the Paratroopers Brigade, on its website.

The bulk of Israeli forces began a withdrawal from northern Gaza earlier this year, with Israel saying it had defeated Hamas battalions in the area. But in recent weeks Israeli troops have returned to the north, including Gaza City, to battle fighters from Hamas they said have regrouped.

About 278 Israeli soldiers have died in Gaza since the start of the military offensive more than seven months ago, the military has said. It said in December that one-fifth of the 105 soldiers who had been killed to that point had died in accidents and that, of those deaths, 13 were the result of friendly fire.

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