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Army: 13 Israeli soldiers killed, 53 wounded in Gaza Sunday

July 20, 2014 6:22 P.M. (Updated: July 22, 2014 10:34 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma'an that 13 soldiers have been killed in intense fighting in the Gaza Strip on Sunday alone, bringing the total to at least 18 since the beginning of a ground invasion late Thursday.

The Israeli military spokeswoman said that all of the soldiers killed were from the elite Golani Brigades.

The military said in a statement released around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday that it was still "completing the identification process" and that the names would be made public following checks with the families.

The military also said that 53 soldiers had been wounded on fighting on Sunday, on top of the 60 soldiers it previously said were wounded the day before.

The wounded include a commander in the Golani Brigade.

Palestinian militants have engaged the Israeli military in fierce fighting across the Gaza Strip since they launched a ground invasion on Thursday.

Since the fighting began, hamas has released numerous videos and images which purport to show captured Israeli weapons.

The Israeli deaths include a Hamas cross-border raid into Israel on Saturday that killed two Israeli soldiers as they were patrolling in the southern region of Eshkol.

In Friday, meanwhile, eyewitnesses said that Israeli forces had been forced to retreat from Beit Lahiya, even while Israeli forces made progress in their invasion across swathes of northern and southern Gaza.

Israel launched its assault on the Gaza Strip 13 days ago, with near continuous air strikes and shelling from land and sea on the besieged coastal enclave of 1.7 million people.

Israeli forces launched a ground invasion on late Thursday which has so far killed more than 200 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are civilians, including 66 in one neighborhood of Gaza City alone on Sunday.

Israel said that the operation -- which it called "Protective Edge" -- was meant to reduce rocket fire from the region into Israel, which ahd increased in June and early July after Israel launched a massive assault against Hamas in the West Bank that left 10 Palestinians dead, 130 injured, and more than 600 Hamas-affiliated individuals in prison.

That operation was launched in response to the disappearance of three Israeli teenagers from a Jewish settlement in the West Bank in June, which Israel accused Hamas of involvement in but which Hamas denied.
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