The Israeli military said Sunday its ground offensive had expanded to every part of Gaza, and it ordered more evacuations in the crowded south while vowing that operations there against the Hamas terrorist group would be “no less strength” than its shattering ones in the north.
Hamas aid its terrorists clashed with Israeli troops about 2 kilometers (1 mile) from the southern city of Khan Younis.
The Israeli military earlier ordered people to evacuate some areas in and near the city, but made no announcement of any new southern ground assault.
“The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] continues to extend its ground operation against Hamas centers in all of the Gaza Strip,” spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters in Tel Aviv in the clearest sign its planned ground offensive in the south had begun. “The forces are coming face-to-face with terrorists and killing them.”
Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi movement said it attacked two Israeli ships in the Red Sea with an armed drone and a missile on Sunday, in a move to stand with Hamas.
The Pentagon also said it was aware of reports of an attack on an American warship, the USS Carney, without going into detail. There was no independent confirmation from Israel or the United States of the attacks or what damage they caused, if any.
Israel’s government spokesperson, Eylon Levy, said the military had struck more than 400 targets over the weekend “including extensive aerial attacks in the Khan Younis area” and had also killed Hamas terrorists and destroyed their infrastructure in Beit Lahiya in the north.
There was no immediate comment on the reports of specific attacks.
The renewed warfare followed the end on Friday of a seven-day pause in the fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas terrorists which had allowed an exchange of 105 hostages held by Hamas, most of them Israelis, for 240 Palestinian prisoners.
More than 15,523 people have been killed, according to Hamas controlled health ministry, in nearly two months of warfare that broke out after a Hamas cross-border raid on southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 Israelis were killed and around 240 taken hostage. Israel says Hamas continues to hold 136 hostages.
Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas. The Iranian-backed group is sworn to Israel’s destruction. The initial Hamas attack and the ensuing war amount to the bloodiest episode in the decades-old wider Israel-Palestinian conflict.
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment but has consistently said it is targeting Hamas military strongholds and has asked civilians to move to safe zones so they can get humanitarian aid.