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Israel pushes deep into Gaza and warns of further escalation

Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip “will escalate”, the country’s chief military spokesperson has warned, as troops push deeper into the region.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Israel Defence Forces (IDF) troops are deployed along the northern border and “prepared for any scenario”.

Dozens of militants were killed overnight, he added, but he refused to confirm the location of the ground forces after social media footage appeared to show tanks advancing on a main road in Gaza.

Israel-Gaza latest: IDF in ‘direct contact’ with Hamas

Israeli advances put their forces on both sides of Gaza City and surrounding areas of the north, in what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a “second stage” in the war.

“Our activities and operations will continue and escalate according to the stages of the war,” Mr Hagari said.

“This is an expanded ground operation into the strip. Ground forces, tanks, infantry forces, armoured corp forces are moving towards the terrorists.

“The terrorists grouped together in certain areas to try to target our forces and we attack them from the air, that’s how we managed to assault and target 20 terrorists.

“There is also direct contact between the ground forces and the terrorists. The fighting is going on inside the Gaza Strip.”

Palestinians check the damage at the site of Israeli strikes on houses, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip
Image:
Palestinians check damage to houses in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip

In other key developments:
• A German-Israeli woman kidnapped from a music festival by Hamas fighters has been found dead, Israel’s foreign ministry says;
• A 25-year-old man is in a critical condition after being stabbed in Jerusalem, with the attack understood to have been carried out by a Palestinian man;
• Anti-Israel protesters stormed a runway in Russia, reportedly chanting antisemitic slogans and looking for passengers on a flight from Tel Aviv;
• British citizens trapped in Gaza ‘could be classed as hostages’, a minister suggests.

UN and medical staff warned airstrikes are getting closer to hospitals, where thousands are wounded and tens of thousands have sought refuge.

According to UN figures, about 117,000 displaced people are staying in hospitals alongside thousands of patients and staff.

The Israeli military said on Monday it was continuing ground operations in the Gaza Strip. Pic: AP
Image:
The Israeli military said it was continuing ground operations in the Gaza Strip. Pic: AP

Meanwhile, talks to free the 239 hostages held by Hamas since the group’s 7 October attack in Israel have stalled, according to NBC News, Sky’s US partner network.

The report refers to a former US official with knowledge of the negotiations, who said the militant group had demanded Israel allow fuel deliveries into Gaza.

Tank ‘blocks key escape road’

As Israel presses ahead, video obtained by the Associated Press showed an Israeli tank and bulldozer in central Gaza.

They appear to be blocking the territory’s main north-south highway, which the Israeli military had told Palestinians to use to escape its ground offensive.

Asked if forces were on the road, Mr Hagari said Israel has “expanded” operations but would not comment on specific deployments.

The video shows a car approaching a barrier across the road, before turning around. The tank appears to open fire as it heads away and an explosion sets the car on fire.

The Gaza health ministry later said three people died – and it now reports 8,306 Palestinians have died in total.

More than 1,400 people have died on the Israeli side, according to the country’s government, with mainly civilians killed during Hamas’ initial attack.

Stabbing in Jerusalem

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Man, 25, stabbed in Jerusalem

As the conflict in Gaza continues to cause tension elsewhere, a 25-year-old man was stabbed in Jerusalem on Monday, according to an Israeli volunteer emergency service.

Sky News correspondent Cordelia Lynch, who is in Jerusalem, said a “large crowd” had gathered, and a “number of security forces” arrived.

She understands the injured man was a border police officer and was stabbed by a Palestinian man, who is now dead.

A spokesperson for Ihud Hatzala said volunteers had provided the injured man with first aid.

The spokesperson added: “When we arrived at the scene we encountered a stab wound in his upper body, we gave him first medical aid at the scene and then he was taken in a police ambulance to the Hadassah Hera Tesov Hospital, where his condition at this stage is determined to be critical.”

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