DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip - Palestinian militants carried out one of the deadliest single attacks on Israeli soldiers since the Gaza invasion began, killing at least nine in an urban ambush, the military said Wednesday, a sign of the stiff resistance Hamas still poses despite more than two months of devastating bombardment.
The ambush in a dense neighborhood came after repeated recent claims by the Israeli military that it had broken Hamas' command structure in northern Gaza, encircled remaining pockets of fighters, killed thousands of militants and detained hundreds more.
The tenacious fighting underscores how far Israel appears to be from its aim of destroying Hamas - even after the military unleashed one of the 21st century's most destructive onslaughts. Israel's air and ground assault has killed more than 18,600 Palestinians, according to Gaza's health officials. Gaza City and surrounding towns have been pounded to ruins. Nearly 1.9 million people have been driven from their homes.