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Gazans ignore Israeli call to flee

EXPOSED TO THE ELEMENTS: Palestinians sleeping in the yard of a United Nations school yesterday, after leaving their homes near the border with Israel.


    Jul 17, 2014

    Gazans ignore Israeli call to flee


    I SRAEL urged 100,000 Gazans to flee their homes yesterday, but the warning was largely ignored as the military intensified its nine-day campaign after Hamas snubbed a ceasefire effort.

    So far, the Israeli campaign has killed 208 Palestinians, with a Gaza-based rights group saying over 80 per cent of the victims were civilians.

    Militants have fired more than 1,200 rockets at Israel, which on Tuesday claimed their first Israeli victim.

    Overnight, warplanes struck about 40 sites across Gaza, among them political targets, as militants also kept up their fire on Israel's coastal plain, with four rockets shot down over metropolitan Tel Aviv.

    The air force dropped fliers that warned some 100,000 Palestinians in the north-eastern Gaza Strip to evacuate their homes, before it launched strikes.

    At least three people were killed in the latest attacks at Khan Yunis in the south.

    But the warnings did not have any immediate effect, with only a few people leaving their homes.

    "They dropped these bits of paper from planes telling people to leave. Where should we go?" asked Faisal Hassan, who lives in Zeitun.

    "I will not leave my house, whatever happens. I have five children, we don't have food, we don't have wages. We're sitting here under God's mercy."

    Hamas urged residents to ignore the warnings.

    "There is no need to worry about these (warnings) or deal with them. Do not respond to them in any way," it said.

    "This is part of the psychological war intended to disrupt the domestic front."

    As the punishing Israeli operation resumed pace, Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas was to travel to Egypt and Turkey in search of regional support for an immediate end to the fighting after an attempt at an Egyptian-brokered truce collapsed.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that the army would "expand and intensify" its operations after Hamas dismissed an Egyptian ceasefire proposal, firing scores of rockets over the border, despite the army holding its fire for six hours.

    Since July 8, Israel has bombed more than 1,750 targets inside Gaza, according to the army.