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Israel pounds Gaza as Red Cross warns of 'intolerable' suffering

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES — Israel intensified its attacks on Gaza Sunday, calling for civilians to flee south where it vowed aid would increase, as the Red Cross warned of "intolerable" suffering.

The United Nations warned thousands more civilians could die in Gaza as Israel declared the war had entered a "second stage", stepping up its ground operations inside the Hamas-run territory.

Israel unleashed a massive bombing campaign after Hamas gunmen stormed across the border on October 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and seizing 230 hostages, according to Israeli officials.

Since then, relentless Israeli strikes on Gaza have killed more than 8,000 people, half of them children, the Hamas-controlled health ministry in the territory said.

Mirjana Spoljaric, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, voiced shock Saturday at the "intolerable level of human suffering", urging all sides to de-escalate the conflict.

"This is a catastrophic failing that the world must not tolerate."

Thousands of buildings have been flattened in the overcrowded territory of 2.4 million people, with more than half the population displaced as Israel imposed a near-total siege.

Israeli fighter jets dropped leaflets over Gaza City on Saturday, warning residents that the area was now a "battlefield", that shelters in northern Gaza were not safe, and they should "evacuate immediately".

The army delivered similar warnings earlier in its campaign, but many who fled south have returned home after failing to find refuge from Israeli bombing.

Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari reiterated Sunday that civilians should go south "to a safer area where they can receive water, food and medicine", vowing that "the humanitarian efforts to Gaza, led by Egypt and the United States, will be expanding".

Hamas authorities reported Sunday a "large number" of people killed overnight in strikes on two refugee camps in northern Gaza.

Israel's Home Front Command earlier warned residents in the southern cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon of incoming missile and rocket attacks.

The intense strikes against Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, provided cover for Israeli ground forces to step