Israel says ground forces operating across Gaza Strip as offensive builds
Israeli ground forces were confronting Hamas fighters across the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said on Sunday in its clearest indication yet that a planned ground offensive in the enclave's refugee-crowded south had begun as Israeli bombing killed and wounded dozens of Palestinians.
The Hamas Palestinian militant group said its fighters clashed with Israeli troops about 2 km (1 mile) from the southern city of Khan Younis.
Residents, many of whom had moved there to flee earlier attacks in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, said they could hear tank fire and feared a new Israeli ground offensive was building.
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 Defence Forces) continues to extend its ground operation against Hamas centres in all of the Gaza Strip," spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters in Tel Aviv. "The forces are coming face-to-face with terrorists and killing them."