IP - Eight Israeli soldiers were killed in a blast near the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Saturday, the Israeli military announced, marking the deadliest incident for Israeli troops in the Strip since January.

Iran Press/ West Asia: The soldiers were traveling in a convoy in a Namer armored combat engineering vehicle (CEV) when the explosion occurred.

The vehicle was the fifth or sixth in the convoy, which was heading to buildings captured by the Israeli army after an overnight operation against Hamas in the northwestern areas of Rafah's Tel Sultan neighborhood.

The Israeli military said that the soldiers were all killed inside the vehicle, which was hit by a major explosion. It was unclear whether the blast was caused by a bomb planted ahead of time or if Hamas operatives had approached the vehicle with an explosive device and directly placed it on the CEV.

The incident is the deadliest for Israeli soldiers in Gaza since January when 21 soldiers were killed in a blast following Hamas RPG fire that collapsed two buildings.