THE “second stage” of war in Gaza has commenced with Israel sending its elite soldiers in to “destroy” Hamas and bring hostages home.
Hordes of soldiers charged into the Strip on Saturday night, following weeks of relentless airstrikes and a Friday-night attack on the terrorist group’s underground bases.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Saturday evening: “This is the second stage of the war whose goals are clear – to destroy Hamas’ governing and military capabilities and to bring the hostages home.”
The October 7 terror attack which killed 1,400 men, women, and children.ministry in the Hamas-run Strip says more than 8,000 people have died since Israel began its retaliation against Hamas’
Israel’s military operation continued in Gaza last night as Palestine fired more rockets into Israel.
The IDF announced this morning its fighter jets had attacked more than 450 military targets of Hamas throughout the Strip in 24 hours.
More on war in Gaza
Strikes were carried out close to a hospital which Israel believes is used by the terrorists as a command centre – and killed a “large number” of people in two north Gazan refugee camps, says Hamas.
Armed clashes between Hamas and Israeli troops have now been reported in north-west Gaza, according to the BBC.
And the Palestinian Red Crescent says it has received warnings from Israeli authorities to immediately evacuate Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza “because they will bomb it”.
The “second stage” of the war will focus on destroying Hamas’ governing and military capabilities and reuniting 229 hostages with their families.
Most read in The Sun
It begun on Saturday evening with an expanding ground offensive into the Gaza Strip, which PM Benjamin Netanyahu stressed would “not clash in any way” with Israel’s ability to return hostages.
The PM said Israel had entered “the stronghold of evil” and was fighting its “second war of independence” in what would be a “long” battle.
He added: “We will fight and we will not surrender. We will not withdraw. It will be a victory of good over evil as we are fighting for our life.”
Israeli commanders have been deployed “all over the Gaza Strip”, he said.
Dramatic footage showed the moment Israeli ground forces poured into Gaza on Friday night as by the IDF “wiped out 150 underground bases”.
Two senior Hamas terror chiefs – Asem Abu Rakaba and Rateb Abu Tshaiban – and other high-ranking officials were killed in the attacks.
Known as GBU-28s, the laser-guided 19ft-long explosives were developed in the US and smash deep into the ground before detonating.
Israel’s chief military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari previously claimed hospitals in Gaza were being used by Hamas as military bases.
The group has dug a series of tunnels under the city’s biggest medical complex, the 1,500-bed Al- Shifa Hospital.
This weekend has seen the heaviest bombing in three weeks of war, with the terrorists’ lair battered from land, sea, and air.
Lieutenant Colonel Avichay Adraee said on Saturday the IDF was “advancing in the stages of war” and expanding its ground operations.
The forces yesterday issued an urgent plea to residents of northern Gaza and Gaza City to relocate south immediately.
Spokesman Daniel Hagari said: “The impending IDF operation is set to neutralise the threat of Hamas with precision and intensity.
“Humanity remains haunted by the massacre unleashed by Hamas on October 7, a massacre of innocent lives. Israeli men, women, children, andwere beheaded, executed, raped, and burnt alive. We won’t forget that.
“And the kidnapping of over 200 Israelis we will not forget.”
Read More on The Sun
He told the Gazan residents their “window to act is closing”.
Phone and internet connectivity in Gaza is just now being restored after an outage which lasted more than 24 hours.