The Israeli Army has confirmed that at least 169 Israeli soldiers have been killed in fighting with Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
This comes after Hamas militants launched a shock cross-border attack, the army said on Wednesday.
“As of this morning, we’ve informed the families of 169 fallen IDF (army) soldiers,” military spokesman Daniel Hagari told reporters, adding that the families of 60 people abducted and taken to Gaza have also been contacted.
He said no new infiltrations by Gaza militants had been reported over the past two days but added that “hundreds of bodies” of slain gunmen had still not been cleared from the border.
“This shows the scope of fighting in the area,” Hagari said.
“They intended on conquering the territory, they weren’t planning on raiding and returning to Gaza,” he said.
“There are individuals who have remained in the field… Over the past day, we’ve killed 18 terrorists.”
Israel is reeling under the brutal assault launched by Hamas militants on Saturday in which at least 1,200 people have now been confirmed dead in the worst attack in the country’s 75-year history.
In Gaza, 1,055 people have been killed as Israel has pounded the densely populated territory with retaliatory air strikes and shelling.