A total of 21 Israeli soldiers were killed in an explosion on January 22 while working to construct a buffer zone between Israel and populated areas of Gaza. Nearly 40% of the 2,824 buildings located in the one kilometre-wide strip along the border have already been destroyed, according to one Israeli study. This destruction has been confirmed by satellite images obtained by our team.
The Israeli army announced on January 22 that 21 of its soldiers had been killed in an explosion, making it the single most deadly day for Israel since the start of the war it launched on Gaza in response to the Hamas October 7 attack.
Hamas killed the Israeli soldiers while they were placing explosives in buildings that the Israeli army wanted to raze as part of the construction of a "buffer zone between the Israeli territories and Gaza", said Herzi Halevi, Israeli Chief of the General Staff. The area where the soldiers died was located just 600 metres from the Israeli border.
“If this is any comfort, I would like the families to know, they fell in battle near the border fence, during a defence operation in the buffer zone between the Israeli communities and Gaza. This is a task whose entire purpose is to create the security conditions for the safe return of the residents of [the Gaza border communities] to their homes,” Halevi said.
The area inside Gaza where the soldiers were killed is located just a few kilometres from the Kissufim kibbutz in Israel, where 14 people were killed in the Hamas cross-border attack on October 7.