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Israel's assault on Gaza enters 'second stage'
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu aims to destroy Palestine's Hamas group "above ground and below ground", even as top Red Cross official decries humanitarian conditions in Gaza
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Israeli military operations in Gaza "only at the start", Netanyahu says
Netanyahu claims efforts to release hostages also still underway
Gaza still under massive communications and internet blackout
International Committee of the Red Cross condemns "intolerable level" of suffering in Gaza
World must not tolerate "catastrophic failing" in Gaza, says ICRC president
Mirjana Spoljaric, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), condemned the humanitarian situation in Gaza, saying it was an "intolerable level of human suffering".
Millions in the besieged strip are either sleeping in makeshift shelters or out in the open, with little food and water, the ICRC said.
"This is a catastrophic failing that the world must not tolerate," Spoljaric said, adding that it was "unacceptable that civilians have no safe place to go in Gaza amid the massive bombardments".
Israel launched airstrikes against Hamas in response to the Hamas attacks on Israeli soil on 7 October, and a ground incursion has just been declared too.
Phone communications and the internet have been completely cut off in Gaza since late Friday evening, 27 October, as Israel ramp up airstrikes amid an "expanding" ground operation.
"In the face of this dramatic armed conflict, what is critically needed now is adherence to international humanitarian law by all parties," Spoljaric said.
Israel launches 'second stage' of Gaza operation
Israeli prime mMinister Benjamin Netanyahu has said fighting inside the Gaza Strip will be "long and difficult", with Israeli ground forces now operating in the Palestinian territory for more than 24 hours.
"The war in the [Gaza] Strip will be long and difficult, and we are prepared for it," Netanyahu told a news conference, after meeting the families of hostages held in Gaza.
Netanyahu said the ground operation launched by Israeli troops in Gaza was the "second stage" in a war against group Hamas, and defeating Hamas is an "existential test" for Israel. He also called on the civilian population of Gaza to move to 'safe areas'.
"This is the second stage of the war whose goals are clear: destroying the military and leadership capabilities of Hamas, and bringing the hostages back home," the Israeli leader declared.
According to the prime minister, contact to secure the release of hostages is continuing even during the ground offensive, and every effort will be made to rescue the more than 200 hostages held by Hamas.
Netanyahu said the idea of a swap deal of hostages for Palestinian prisoners had been discussed within the Israeli war cabinet. But he declined to elaborate, saying revealing any details would be counterproductive.
He also accused Hamas of using hospitals as command centres and alleged that "90 per cent" of the Hamas military budget comes from Iran.
Hamas is designated as a terrorist organisation by Israel, and well as the US, Germany and several other countries.