Jerusalem, Oct 30: Israeli troops intensified ground operations in the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Monday.
During clashes with Hamas militants in the coastal enclave, IDF troops killed dozens of those who barricaded themselves in buildings and tunnels, and attempted to attack the troops, according to a statement released by the IDF.
In one incident, an IDF aircraft guided by ground troops struck a staging post inside a building belonging to Hamas, with over 20 operatives of the militant group inside it, said the statement, Xinhua news agency reported.
The statement also noted that over the last few days, the IDF struck over 600 targets of Hamas, including weapons depots, dozens of anti-tank missile launching positions, as well as hideouts and staging grounds used by Hamas.
Moreover, overnight IDF troops identified armed Hamas militants and an anti-tank missile launching post in the area of the Al-Azhar University and guided a fighter jet to strike them.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that the country's war cabinet and political cabinet "unanimously decided to expand the ground operation" in the Gaza Strip.
The decision was made as regional countries warned Israel against further ground operations.
In a press conference joined by other senior officials in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said Israel is now "heading into the second stage of the war," during which his country will try to achieve its target of destroying "Hamas's military and governing capabilities, and returning the hostages home."
Israel has launched massive airstrikes and ground operations against Gaza in retaliation for a surprise attack by Gaza-ruling Hamas militants on Israeli military targets and towns on Oct. 7, which killed at least 1,400 people in Israel.
A total of 229 hostages were taken hostage during the Hamas attack, most of them civilians, according to the IDF.
The Palestinian death toll from Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip rose to 8,070, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said on Sunday. (IANS)