Israel says 21 soldiers killed in single attack in Gaza in its deadliest day since offensive began

Hamas has turned down a temporary ceasefire deal presented by Israel as fighting continues in Gaza

Israel's military says 21 of its soldiers were killed in a single attack in Gaza on Monday, making it the deadliest day for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) since the start of its offensive.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant called it a "difficult and painful morning", but vowed to continue the country's military operations against proscribed terror group Hamas.

The development comes as Israel faces growing internal pressure to negotiate a ceasefire deal, with one senior official suggesting that a two-month pause has recently been tabled.

Overnight, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said dozens of Palestinians had died from heavy fighting in the city of Khan Younis - bringing the Palestinian death toll to more than 25,000.

On Monday, 21 Israeli reservists were killed after a pair of two-storey buildings collapsed near the Maghazi refugee camp, in central Gaza.

The soldiers had been preparing explosives to demolish the buildings, when a Palestinian militant fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a nearby tank.

The blast triggered the explosives, causing both buildings to collapse on the soldiers inside.

More than 200 Israeli soldiers have now died since the start of the country's offensive.

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Israel's ground operations in recent weeks have focused in southern Gaza, after the IDF said it had largely destroyed Hamas' military capabilities in the north, including Gaza City.

Meanwhile, a senior Egyptian official said Israel has proposed a two-month ceasefire, in which the remaining hostages Hamas holds - estimated to be more than 100 - would be freed in exchange for the release of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Around 250 people were abducted by Hamas, following its offensive into southern Israel, of which more than 100 were released in November in exchange for a weeklong ceasefire and the release of 240 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

The official - who was not authorised to brief media and spoke on condition of anonymity - added that as part of the deal senior Hamas leaders in Gaza would be allowed to relocate to other countries.

Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis. Credit: AP

Hamas rejected the proposal and is insisting that no more hostages will be released until Israel ends its offensive and withdraws from Gaza, according to the official.

Israel's government declined to comment on the talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously said he will not negotiate a ceasefire, rejecting the idea of a 'two-state' solution and instead saying Israel will need to expand its military operations and oversee control of the Gaza Strip at the end of the war.

Families of the hostages and many of their supporters have called for Israel to reach a ceasefire deal, saying that time is running out to bring the hostages home alive.

On Monday, dozens of hostages' relatives stormed a parliamentary committee meeting, demanding a deal to win their loved ones' release.

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