Israel’s leader Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel’s ground operation in Gaza marks the “second stage” of what he says will be a “long and difficult” war with Hamas.
Speaking in a televised address, he confirmed Israeli commanders are deployed “all over the Gaza Strip” as heavy bombing continues.
Leaflets have been dropped over Gaza City warning residents the area is now a “battlefield” and they must leave for the south.
Civilians in Gaza remain cut off from the outside world, because phone lines and the internet are down for most people.
The White House said Israel had the right to “take the fight to Hamas”
Turkey’s leader accused Israel of war crimes – Netanyahu responded angrily, saying the IDF was a “moral army”.
Israel has been bombing Gaza since the 7 October Hamas attacks that killed 1,400 people and saw 229 people kidnapped as hostages.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says more than 7,600 people have been killed since Israel’s retaliatory bombing began.
UN rights chief warns of ‘possibly catastrophic consequences’.
Meanwhile, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights has warned that large-scale Israeli ground operations in Gaza could produce “catastrophic” consequences, with possibly thousands more civilian deaths.
Volker Turk urged the two sides and others with influence in the region to do everything to de-escalate the conflict.
“Last night’s bombardment and ground operations in Gaza by Israeli forces were reportedly the most intensive yet, taking this terrible crisis to a new level of violence and pain,” he said.
“Compounding the misery and suffering of civilians, Israeli strikes on telecommunications installations and subsequent Internet shutdown have effectively left Gazans with no way of knowing what is happening across Gaza and cut them off from the outside world.”
Israel says its military operations in Gaza are targeted at destroying Hamas and its infrastructure so it can no longer mount attacks.