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Israeli forces launched their storm of the main city in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday.

In what appeared to be the biggest ground assault since a truce collapsed last week, residents said Israeli tanks had entered the eastern parts of Khan Younis for the first time, crossing from the Israeli border fence and advancing west.

Some took up positions inside the town of Bani Suhaila on Khan Younis’ eastern outskirts, while others continued further and were stationed on the edge of a Qatari-funded housing development called Hamad City, residents said.

The Israelis, who seized the northern half of Gaza last month before pausing for the week-long truce, say they are now extending their ground campaign to the rest of the enclave to fulfill their objective of annihilating its Hamas rulers.

“We’re moving ahead with the second stage now. A second stage that is going to be difficult militarily,” government spokesperson Eylon Levy told reporters in a briefing.

Israel was open to “constructive feedback” on reducing harm to civilians as long as the advice is consistent with its aim of destroying Hamas, he said.

A spokesperson for the Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry said hospitals in the southern Gaza Strip are “totally collapsing” amid the fighting, saying they “cannot deal with the quantity and quality of injuries that arrive.”

Washington has called on its close ally Israel to do more to reduce harm to civilians in the next phase of the Gaza war, which Israel launched following Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre. Palestinian terrorists led by Hamas invaded the Jewish state and rampaged across southern Israeli communities, murdering 1,200 people and seizing 240 hostages.

According to Hamas-controlled Gaza health authorities, thousands of people have died during Israel’s military campaign of air strikes and ground operations — although experts have cast doubt on the reliability of casualty figures coming out of Gaza, which also do not note how many killed were terrorists.

Israel says blame for harm to civilians falls on Hamas fighters who operate among them, including from tunnels below ground that can be destroyed only with huge bombs.

Since the truce collapsed, Israel has been posting an online map to tell Gazans which parts of the enclave to evacuate. The eastern quarter of Khan Younis was marked out on it on Monday, and is home to hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom took flight on foot.

“What civilians should do to stay safe is listen to the instructions that are coming out from our Twitter accounts, from our website, and also to look at the leaflets that are landing in their areas,” Israeli military spokesperson Richard Hecht told reporters on Tuesday.

Gazans say there is no safe place left to go, with remaining towns and shelters already overwhelmed.

Source of original article: Israel – (
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