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Two Israeli soldiers killed in central Gaza

Israel’s army said Friday that two Israeli soldiers were killed in combat in central Gaza.

No information was given about the circumstances of the deaths of the two, both of whom were men in their 20s. Three other soldiers were severely injured, the army said.

One of the Israeli soldier killed in combat in Gaza was the son of the one the first Israeli Olympic medalists, according to the country’s Olympic Committee.

Omer Smadga, whose death was announced by the army on Friday, was the son of Oren Smadga, the winner of a bronze medal in judo at the 1992 Summer Olympics. The army did not provide further details about the circumstances of his death.

Israel’s Olympic Committee said they “bowed their heads in deep pain” with the Olympic medalist and coach, who helped train the current Israeli Olympic judo team. The committee did not say whether or not Smadga would travel to Paris with the judo team.

Smadga’s success, along with Yael Arad, who also won a silver medal in judo at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, helped propel the sport in Israel.

The news comes as public anger grows in Israel over the trajectory of the eight-month conflict and exemptions from military service for young ultra-Orthodox men.

Since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led terrorist attack that triggered the war, in which terrorists stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250, more than 660 Israeli troops have been killed, according to the latest figures from the military.

Over 37,000 Palestinians in the enclave have been killed by Israeli fire over that same period, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its figures.

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