Health officials reported on Tuesday that eight Palestinians were killed and dozens injured as Israeli forces bombarded multiple areas of Khan Younis and Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, prompting thousands to flee their homes under fire.

The Israeli army had previously instructed residents of several towns and villages in eastern Khan Younis to evacuate their homes on Monday, ahead of tanks re-entering the area which the military had vacated several weeks prior. Thousands who ignored the evacuation order were compelled to flee their homes in the dark overnight as Israeli tanks and planes targeted Karara, Abassan, and other areas specified in the evacuation orders, according to residents and Hamas media.

"Where will we go?" lamented Tamer, a 55-year-old businessman who has been displaced six times since October 7. "Each time people return to their homes and start to rebuild their lives, even on the ruins of their houses, the occupation sends the tanks back to destroy what remains," he told Reuters via a chat app.

The Israeli military stated that its forces had targeted areas in Khan Younis from which approximately 20 rockets were launched on Monday, including weapon storage facilities and operational centers. The military claimed that measures were taken prior to the strikes to ensure the safety of civilians by allowing them to evacuate, referring to the evacuation orders. It accused Hamas of using civilian infrastructure and the population as human shields, a claim the Islamist group denies.

Islamic Jihad, an ally of Hamas, claimed responsibility for the rocket launches, stating they were in response to "the crimes of the Zionist enemy against our Palestinian people."

The conflict in Gaza erupted when Hamas-led fighters infiltrated southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostages, including civilians and soldiers, back into Gaza, according to Israeli figures. Israel's retaliatory offensive has resulted in nearly 38,000 deaths, according to the Gaza health ministry, leaving the densely populated coastal area in ruins.

The Gaza health ministry does not differentiate between combatants and non-combatants, but officials report that most of the dead are civilians. Israel states that 317 of its soldiers have been killed in Gaza, and at least a third of the Palestinian fatalities are fighters.

Within the areas subject to evacuation orders was the European Gaza Hospital, which serves both Khan Younis and Rafah. Medical officials had to evacuate patients and families who had sought refuge in the facility, according to witnesses and medics.

Some residents moved west towards the Mawasi area by the beach, designated as a humanitarian area but now overcrowded with displaced families. Unable to find shelter, some slept in the street.

Israel has indicated that its operation in Rafah, near the border with Egypt, aimed at eliminating Hamas, will soon conclude. After the intense phase of the war, its forces will focus on smaller-scale operations to prevent Hamas from regrouping, according to officials.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Israel is approaching its goal of destroying Hamas's military capabilities, which have governed Gaza since 2007. He added that less intense operations would continue.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to attack Israeli forces within Gaza and launch occasional rockets into Israel as a display of defiance. Hamas claims Netanyahu has failed to achieve the war's objectives and is prepared to fight for years.

Efforts by Arab mediators, supported by the United States, to secure a ceasefire have stalled. Hamas demands a complete end to the war and full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, while Israel insists on temporary pauses in fighting until Hamas is eradicated.