Israel is widening the assault on Gaza with reports that tanks have moved into the southern city of Khan Younis. Meanwhile three Israeli soldiers have been killed by so-called friendly fire. Dominic Waghorn reports.
IDF Statement On Friendly Fire Incident :
Three IDF soldiers were killed, one was critically wounded, three were severely wounded and 20 soldiers were lightly to moderately wounded as a result of an IDF tank shell explosion fired in error during an operation in the northern Gaza Strip. The shell hit a structure where the soldiers were located.
The families of the fallen and injured soldiers have been notified.
The incident occurred during an intensive battle waged by Golani Brigade soldiers against Hamas.
In the hours following the incident other scenarios were taken into consideration as the cause, including that the explosion was caused by an enemy anti-tank missile or that the structure was rigged with explosives, but these were later ruled out.
The injured soldiers received initial medical treatment in the field before being evacuated by helicopters and vehicles to hospitals in Israel. Heavy IDF artillery fire provided cover for the evacuation.
Golani Brigade commander, Colonel Avi Peled, sustained light injuries in the incident. Col. Peled oversaw the evacuation in the field and directed the artillery and aerial cover via communication systems. Only after all those injured were evacuated did the brigade commander seek medical attention for himself.