JERUSALEM, July 23 (Xinhua) -- Three Israeli soldiers were killed in battles in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement.
The IDF said they were killed by an explosive device activated by Palestinian militants.
Two more soldiers were seriously wounded, ten were moderately injured and sixteen were lightly injured in various incidents across the strip on Wednesday, the statement added.
The current number of Israeli soldiers killed since Israel embarked on its ground incursion on Thursday stands at 32, with another missing soldier that the military presumes died in an incident on Sunday. Hamas claimed they have kidnapped the soldier, but did not specify whether he was dead or alive.
Three Israeli civilians died in the south due to Hamas rocket attacks in the past two weeks, as Palestinian militants launched more than 2000 rockets throughout Israel from the Gaza Strip.
At least 350 Palestinians have been killed since Thursday, and about 655 have been killed since the start of the Operation Protective Edge on July 8, according to Health officials in Gaza. More than 4,200 have been wounded.
In the meantime, efforts to reach a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas continue. U.S Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, despite the American Federal Aviation Authority's warning against flying to the Ben Gurion airport due to Hamas' rocket attacks.
Kerry said that "some progress has been made" but that there's still a long way to go to achieve a cease-fire agreement, before meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who arrived in Israel on Tuesday.
The Secretary of State also met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday afternoon and is supposed to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the evening.