Eight Israeli soldiers have been killed inside Gaza, the Israeli military has confirmed.

The military personnel were killed in a blast in the southern city of Rafah on Saturday morning, according to the Israeli military.

It comes amid Israel‘s ongoing offensive there and its operation to rescue the remaining hostages taken by Hamas militants on 7 October.

Saturday’s is the deadliest incident for Israeli soldiers since January when 21 were killed when two buildings collapsed in central Gaza.

The eight dead are believed to have been driving in a convoy following an overnight offensive against Hamas and died inside an armoured vehicle, according to the Times of Israel.

One has been named as Captain Wassem Mahmoud, 23, of the Combat Engineering Corps’ 601st Batallion. The families of the other seven have been informed and will be named in due course.

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The hostages rescued by Israel

Four Israeli troops were killed on Monday after the building they were searching in Rafah collapsed.

Before that, a so-called friendly-fire incident left five soldiers dead and seven injured in Jabaliya, northern Gaza on 16 May.

More than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the conflict, according to the Hamas-run health authorities in Gaza.

Some 210 Palestinians, including children, were killed when Israel successfully retrieved four of its hostages last week, according to Gaza’s health authorities.

The freed hostages were named as Noa Argamani, 25, Almog Meir Jan, 21, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 40, and were all taken from the Nova music festival on 7 October.

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Video of hostage rescue

The latest deaths will likely further calls for both sides to adopt the US-backed ceasefire deal, which was approved by the UN Security Council on Monday.

The three-phase plan, which US President Joe Biden has described as an Israeli one, calls for the release of all remaining hostages and a temporary pause in hostilities that will last as long as it takes to negotiate the second phase.

This constitutes a “full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza” and “a permanent end to hostilities”, according to the resolution put forward. The final phase focuses on the reconstruction of Gaza.

Hamas has said it is ready to cooperate with mediators over implementing the principles of the plan.