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Israel readies next stage of operations, says many Palestinians moving south

Israel readies next stage of operations, says many Palestinians moving south
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Saturday, 14 October, 2023, 18:36

The Israeli military said on Saturday (Oct 14) it had seen a "significant movement" south of Palestinian civilians, a day after ordering Gaza City residents to flee, as Israel's prime minister promised further retaliation for Hamas' rampage last week.

United States President Joe Biden said consultations were underway with regional governments on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as trapped Palestinians endured a power blackout and shortages of food and water amid fierce Israeli bombing.

Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas for the attack a week ago, in which its fighters killed 1,300 Israelis, mainly civilians, and seized scores of hostages.

Israel has since put the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, home to 2.3 million Palestinians, under a total siege and bombarded it with unprecedented air strikes. Gaza authorities say 1,900 people have died.

On Friday, more than a million residents of northern Gaza had received a notice from Israel to flee south within 24 hours, a deadline that has since expired.

"We have seen a significant movement of Palestinian civilians towards the south," Israeli military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus told a video briefing early on Saturday.

He did not mention the deadline and did not take questions.

"Around the Gaza Strip, Israeli reserve soldiers in formation (are) getting ready for the next stage of operations," he added.

"They are all around the Gaza Strip, in the south, in the centre and in the north, and they are preparing themselves for whatever target they get, whatever task.

"The end state of this war is that we will dismantle Hamas and its military capability and fundamentally change the situation so that Hamas never again has the ability to inflict any damage on Israeli civilians or soldiers."

Hamas vowed to fight to the last drop of blood and told residents to stay.

The Israeli military said on Friday tank-backed troops had mounted raids to hit Hamas rocket crews and gather information on the location of hostages, the first official account of ground troops in Gaza since the crisis began.