Monday’s heavy death toll could add new momentum to calls for Israel to pause the offensive or even halt it altogether.
Israel’s army said on Tuesday that 21 soldiers were killed in Gaza in the biggest loss of military life since fighting began in October.
Israeli Defense Force spokesman Daniel Hagari said the troops were preparing explosives to demolish two buildings on Monday when a militant fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a nearby tank, setting off the explosion prematurely.
The buildings collapsed on the soldiers.
Israel’s Channel 13 says the toll is even higher and that more names will be announced.
It comes as criticism of the Israeli government’s handling of the 3-month-long war against Hamas swells at home and overseas.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press on until Israel crushes Hamas and wins the freedom of more than 100 hostages held captive in Gaza.
Israelis are increasingly divided on whether it is possible to do either, however.
Some are fiercely critical of the government’s hardline militaristic approach, with Israel ruling out a ceasefire with Hamas in exchange for the release of the hostages.
Some hostages have been killed in Israeli fire.
On Monday, family members of the captives disrupted a committee meeting in Israel’s parliament.
“You won’t sit here while they are dying there,” they shouted.
Monday’s heavy death toll of soldiers could add new momentum to calls for Israel to pause the offensive or even halt it altogether.
Large numbers of Israeli casualties have put pressure on Israel’s government to halt military operations in the past.
Palestinian civilians killed amid military offensive
On Monday, Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip pounded the southern city of Khan Younis, pushing thousands of Palestinians to flee even further south.
According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, 190 people were killed and 340 wounded in Gaza over the past 24 hours.
Families made their way on foot down the coastal highway, smoke billowing from the city behind them. Others loaded blankets and belongings into vehicles or donkey carts.
The war has displaced some 85% of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents. One in four of them are starving, the UN says.
The Health Ministry in Gaza details that more than 25,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, which erupted on 7 October when militants from Gaza attacked southern Israel.
Around 1,200 people were killed and 250 taken hostage.