Speaking to soldiers at Israel's southern Gaza Division, Halevi said, "Yesterday morning (Saturday) we started the same movement in the southern Gaza Strip," referring to ground operations.

The senior military official added, according to the Times of Israel, that ground operations in the south "will be no less powerful than those in northern Gaza, and will have no fewer results. Hamas leaders will confront the Israeli army everywhere."

"We have the potential to do this to the fullest, and as we did it vigorously and accurately in the northern Gaza Strip, we are doing it now as well in the southern Gaza Strip, and we also continue to work to deepen the achievements in the northern Gaza Strip," Halevi explained.

Video footage circulating online showed Israeli tanks in Khan Younis in southern Gaza, and Hamas also said its fighters had clashed with Israeli forces in the area.