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Israel calls for civilians to leave Gaza City as ‘significant operation’ looms

Reuters – Israel’s military on Friday called for all civilians of Gaza City, more than 1 million people, to relocate south within 24 hours, as it amassed tanks nearby ahead of an expected ground invasion after a devastating attack by the militant group Hamas.

“Now is a time for war,” Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said on Thursday as Israeli warplanes continued pounding Gaza in retaliation for the weekend attacks by Hamas militants that killed more than 1,300 Israelis, mostly civilians.

The Israeli military said it would operate “significantly” in Gaza City in the coming days and civilians should only return when advised. More than 1,500 Palestinians have already been killed in retaliatory attacks.

“Civilians of Gaza City, evacuate south for your own safety and the safety of your families and distance yourself from Hamas terrorists who are using you as human shields,” the military said.

“Hamas terrorists are hiding in Gaza City inside tunnels underneath houses and inside buildings populated with innocent Gazan civilians.”

A Hamas official said the Gaza relocation warning was “fake propaganda” and urged citizens not to fall for it.

The United Nations said it considered it impossible for such a movement of people to take place “without devastating humanitarian consequences.”

Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Gilad Erdan described the U.N.’s response to Israel’s early warning to the residents of Gaza as “shameful”.

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