The war in Gaza erupted afresh on Monday as Israel warned of a protracted military campaign to destroy cross-border tunnels and disarm Hamas and other militant groups.

“We need to be prepared for a long operation until our mission is accomplished,” Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said in a televised press conference, flouting mounting international calls for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire.

Netanyahu spoke after a series of dramatic events following a lull in fighting on Sunday and early Monday. Nine children playing in a Gaza refugee camp were killed, the main public hospital was struck, four Israeli soldiers were killed in a mortar attack and militants from Gaza infiltrated Israel through a cross-border tunnel.

Intense shelling resumed in Gaza on Monday night as the Israel Defence Forces warned residents of neighbourhoods in northern Gaza – including Shujai’iya, the scene of some of the most intense fighting in the three-week war – to evacuate immediately, suggesting a major escalation of military action was imminent.

Benny Gantz, the Israeli military chief of staff, and defence minister Moshe Ya’alon, standing alongside the prime minister, reinforced his statement, saying the operation would continue as long as necessary.

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