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IDF says three soldiers killed fighting Hamas in northern Gaza Strip

By Mike Heuer
An Israeli army tank churns up dust as it returns into a forward staging area inside southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. On the day when Spain, Ireland and Norway announced they would recognize a Palestinian state next week, Israel reports three of its soldiers were killed in fighting Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip. Photo by Jim Hollander/UPI
1 of 4 | An Israeli army tank churns up dust as it returns into a forward staging area inside southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. On the day when Spain, Ireland and Norway announced they would recognize a Palestinian state next week, Israel reports three of its soldiers were killed in fighting Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip. Photo by Jim Hollander/UPI | License Photo

May 22 (UPI) -- The death toll for Israeli Defense Forces rose to 286 after the IDF on Wednesday announced the deaths of three soldiers killed by Hamas militants in the northern Gaza Strip.

The soldiers were killed during operations Wednesday morning and are Master Sgt. Gideon Chay DeRowe, 33, of Tel Aviv; Capt. Israel Yudkin, 22. of Kfar Habad; and Sgt. 1st Class Eliyahu Haim Emsallem, 21, of Raanana, the IDF announced.

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A sniper attack in Beit Hanoun killed Emsallem and Yudkin, while an explosive device caused DeRowe's death. A Defense Ministry civilian contractor also was killed.

The soldiers were in Beit Hanoun to locate tunnel shafts, explosive devices and snipers in an area located between civilian houses and a security area near the border fence that separates the northern Gaza Strip from Israel.

Many soldiers also were wounded and were airlifted by helicopter to the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva.

The IDF issued a statement expressing its sorrow and shared grief with the fallen soldiers' families.

The Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health announced 62 deaths and 138 wounded in fighting during the past 24 hours.

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The casualties occurred as Ireland, Spain and Norway announced they will recognize Palestine as a state and encourage other nations to follow suit, Al Jazeera reported.

Officials in Colombia also announced they will open an embassy in Ramallah in the West Bank to support diplomatic relations in Palestine. Colombia recently ended its diplomatic ties with Israel.

Meanwhile, an estimated 800,000 have been displaced in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip while awaiting an anticipated push by the IDF to eliminate four remaining Hamas battalions in the city.

The U.S. Department of State designated Hamas a foreign terrorist organization on Oct. 8, 1997.

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