Israel sends in elite troops to Gaza as ‘second stage’ of war begins as PM vows to wipe out Hamas’ ‘stronghold of evil’

Israel sends in elite troops to Gaza as ‘second stage’ of war begins as PM vows to wipe out Hamas’ ‘stronghold of evil’

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.

APA Palestinian goes through his belongings after an Israeli attack in Gaza on Sunday[/caption]

Israeli soldiers patrol along Israel’s border with Gaza on SaturdayRex

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had entered ‘the stronghold of evil’Rex

APBuildings were destroyed in Israel’s bombardment on Sunday[/caption]

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 health ministry in the Hamas-run Strip says more than 8,000 people have died since Israel began its retaliation against Hamas’ October 7 terror attack which killed 1,400 men, women, and children.

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.

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.

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 lightning strikes 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.

The Israeli Air Force also deployed powerful 5,000lb “Bunker Buster” bombs to destroy Hamas’ intricate tunnel network where Hamas’ command and control centres are based, according to some reports.

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 has 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, and babies were beheaded, executed, raped, and burnt alive. We won’t forget that.

“And the kidnapping of over 200 Israelis we will not forget.”

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.

GettySmoke rises in Gaza on Friday night as the IDF conducts air attacks[/caption]

ReutersPalestinian children check the damage after Israeli troops demolished a house in Askar refugee camp[/caption]

EPAIsraeli soldiers prepare for ground manoeuvres in Israel near its border with Gaza[/caption]

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