IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout image released for publication on July 4, 2024. (IDF)

IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout image released
for publication on July 4, 2024. (IDF)

An Israel Defense Forces soldier was killed during fighting on Thursday in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood, where the military said troops were continuing to operate against Hamas in close-quarters combat.

The IDF said troops were engaged in battling Hamas gunmen in the north, south and center of the Strip, as residents of Gaza said they were still seeking a safe place to shelter following evacuation orders distributed in Khan Younis earlier this week.

The IDF identified the soldier who was killed on Thursday as Staff Sgt. Eyal Mimran, 20, of the Paratroopers Brigade’s 101st Battalion, from Ness Ziona.

His death brings Israel’s toll in the ground offensive against Hamas in Gaza and in military operations along the border with the Strip to 325.

Separately, a reservist with the Alexandroni Brigade was seriously wounded in central Gaza, the IDF added.

Earlier Thursday, the IDF announced the deaths of two IDF soldiers a day earlier in fighting in northern Gaza; separately a soldier was killed Thursday in a Hezbollah attack on the Golan Heights.

Staff Sgt. Eyal Mimran, 20, from Ness Ziona, was killed in battle in Gaza on July 4, 2024. (Courtesy)

Rocket sirens rang out twice in the evacuated border community of Kibbutz Nahal Oz on Thursday morning. Local authorities said two rockets were fired at the kibbutz from Gaza and fell in open areas without causing any injuries.

The IDF said Thursday morning that Israeli fighter jets and drones struck more than 50 sites belonging to terror groups in the Gaza Strip over the past day.

The strikes came as troops continued to operate in Gaza City’s Shejaiya, in southern Gaza’s Rafah, and in the Netzarim Corridor in the Strip’s center.

In Shejaiya, the IDF said troops with the 98th Division killed dozens of gunmen in close-quarters combat, tank shelling and by calling in airstrikes. Several tunnels were also demolished in the neighborhood, according to the military.

In Rafah, the IDF said troops under the 162nd Division killed several gunmen using a drone. And in central Gaza, the 99th Division called in airstrikes against terror operatives and infrastructure, the military added.

The IDF also said that it struck Hamas operatives who were gathered at UN schools in Gaza City. According to the military, Hamas had established command rooms in the Al-Qahirah and Musa schools, run by UNRWA.

Rescuers stand on the rubble of destroyed buildings following Israeli shelling
in the Old City of Gaza City, July 4, 2024. (Omar Al-Qattaa/AFP)

The military said the schools were used as “hideouts for terrorists and as an active operational infrastructure of the Hamas terror organization, from which Hamas terrorists planned, directed, and carried out many terror attacks against IDF troops operating in the Gaza Strip.”

Attack helicopters and fighter jets struck the sites and the Hamas operatives.

The IDF said it carried out several measures to “mitigate harm to civilians” in the strike, including carrying out aerial surveillance, using “precise munitions,” and employing other intelligence.

“The Hamas terror organization regularly violates international law, while systematically exploiting civilian buildings and the civilian population as human shields for terror activity against the State of Israel,” the military noted.

On Thursday, many Palestinians were still seeking shelter following evacuation orders issued earlier in the week by the IDF for areas of Khan Younis and Rafah. Residents said that Israeli tanks shelled several areas on the eastern side of Khan Younis, but there was no movement by the tanks further into those areas.

An injured Palestinian youth stands near debris in Khan Younis
in the southern Gaza Strip on July 4, 2024. (Bashar Taleb/AFP)

Some residents of Khan Younis said many families slept on the road because they could not find tents. Some reacted with cautious optimism to news of progress in the latest round of hostage release-ceasefire talks.

“We hope that this is the end of the war, we are exhausted and we can’t stand more setbacks and disappointments,” said Youssef, a father-of-two, now displaced in Khan Younis, in the south of the enclave.

“Every more hour into this war, more people die, and more houses get destroyed, so enough is enough. I say this to my leaders, to Israel and the world,” he told Reuters via a chat app.

The war in Gaza was started by Hamas’s October 7 attack, in which Palestinian terrorists killed some 1,200 people and seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still believed to be held in the Strip, including 42 whose deaths have been confirmed by Israeli intelligence. Israel responded to the onslaught with a military campaign to destroy the Gaza-ruling terror group and free the hostages.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said Thursday that at least 38,011 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far, though the toll cannot be verified and does not differentiate between civilians and fighters. Israel says it has killed some 15,000 combatants in battle and some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel during the October 7 attack.