#AceWorldNews – GAZA CITY — Thousands of residents fled northern Gaza on Sunday at the urging of the Israeli military as its ground troops briefly crossed the border on a mission to destroy a launching site.
The tumult came as the death toll from Israel’s six-day Operation Protective Edge offensive rose to more than 160, with more than 1,000 injured, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
“Civilians are requested to evacuate their residences immediately for their own safety,” the Israeli leaflets dropped by air warned. They listed specific areas that would “prove to be most dangerous.”
Israeli airstrikes hit more than 200 homes and buildings across Gaza on Sunday. Despite calls from the United Nations and world leaders, there were no signs the two sides will agree to a cease-fire soon.
Nasr Kafarna, 43, a farmer in northern Gaza who lives near the border, says he has been on edge for the past week. After Israeli troops crossed into Gaza early Sunday, he fears for the worst.
“I worry this is all-out war now,” he said. “We haven’t recovered from the last one – we aren’t ready for another one.”
The Israeli military announced that four soldiers had been lightly wounded during a brief incursion to destroy a rocket launching site in northern Gaza.
It is the first time that Israeli ground troops are known to have entered Gaza in the current offensive. But the operation was carried out by special forces and did not appear to be the beginning of a broad ground offensive.
Earlier, as international calls for a cease-fire ramped up, Israel military warned residents of northern Gaza to evacuate “for their own safety.”
In a statement Saturday, the Israeli military said it would send messages to northern Gaza residents overnight to leave their homes as Israel planned to hit the area with heavy force in the next 24 hours, according to Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz, chief military spokesman.
“We are going to attack there with great force in the next 24 hours due to a very large concentration of Hamas efforts in that area,” he said.