Nine Israeli soldiers were killed during combat operations in Gaza on Tuesday, the military said, bringing the total number of troops killed since October 7 to 326. Two soldiers were also seriously wounded in fighting in the Palestinian territory on Tuesday, according to the military, which has been waging a war against Hamas since the Palestinian militant group carried out the deadliest attack in Israel’s history on October 7. Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said the deaths of the soldiers in battle was “a hard and painful blow,” noting the army’s “significant achievements” in its Gaza campaign. “We are prepared and ready for a long and complex campaign”, he said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter. In recent days, Gaza has seen fierce battles between Israeli ground troops and militants as Israel has pressed its campaign to “crush” Hamas after its militants went on a rampage on October 7 killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, including women, children and the elderly. Since then, Israel has hit back with an unrelenting air and artillery bombardment, which the health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza says has killed more than 8,500 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and children.