The Israeli military has declared that its ground forces have advanced to Khan Younis, a key city in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
The head of Israeli forces' southern command said on social media on Tuesday that they were "in the heart of Khan Younis." He added that they were having the most intense day since the beginning of the ground operation.
The military had deployed ground forces near Khan Younis while continuing bombing the city to destroy Hamas.
Israel Defense Forces Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi, said on Tuesday that they have moved to the "third phase" of the ground operation.
He said his forces had captured numerous Hamas strongholds in northern Gaza, and are now operating against its centers of gravity in the south.
As Israel's ground operation reached Khan Younis, an increasing number of civilians are moving further south to the city of Rafah.
Video shot on Monday by NHK staff member Salam Abu Tahoun shows displaced people setting up tents along the road on the outskirts of Rafah as shelter from rain and cold.
A man who used to live in Gaza City said he was housed in a tent in Khan Younis where he was evacuated to, but now he was told to move to Rafah. He said he was wondering where to go next.
Hamas's armed wing said on social media on Tuesday that its fighters assaulted Israeli military vehicles in Khan Younis and also in the northern Gaza city of Jabalia.
Israeli media say rockets launched by Hamas hit a building in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on Tuesday, injuring two people.
Health authorities in the Gaza Strip say 16,248 people have been killed since the conflict broke out on October 7. Concerns are mounting over a possible increase of civilian casualties as Israeli forces advance on southern Gaza.