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“Gazans: Israeli Military Warns of Imminent Danger – Flee South Now!

The Israeli military has increased the urgency of its call to Gazans to flee to the south of the Gaza Strip as it heads into an escalated offensive. The call came today as a warning and reminder to Palestinian civilians as the situation escalated after a rocket from the Gaza Strip struck an Israeli city yesterday. In a statement, the military said that the “escalation of events,” including the rocket fire at Be’er Sheva, led to an “increased risk of harm” to civilians in the region. The military said it had coordinated with UNRWA, the United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, in order to inform the residents of Be’er Sheva and other communities in the South of Israel that there is a “heightened risk” due to the Israeli offensive and cautioned them to stay away from the area. In addition, the statement urged Gazans to “leave areas of the Gaza Strip adjacent to the Israeli border (within seven kilometers) to distances of at least 20 km away from the border.” This call to evacuate was reiterated with the assurance that the Israeli military “is doing its utmost to focus its efforts to protect civilians.” The Israeli military also outlined the steps it was taking in order to protect civilians, including limited warning fire, leaflet-dropping in residential areas, and phone calls to influential figures in civil society, as well as increased coordination between the military and UNRWA. The intensified offensive comes after Hamas militants fired rockets at Israel yesterday in response to heightened tensions resulting from an IDF operation in the Gaza Strip. Following the rocket fire, the Israeli Prime Minister confirmed that the IDF would increase their efforts to target Hamas. The situation has been met with strong condemnation from the international community, particularly the United Nations, who worry that increased offensives, and the call for Gazan civilians to flee towards the south of the Strip, could exacerbate a humanitarian crisis. Human Rights groups are also calling on both sides to take measures to protect the lives and safety of civilians within the area. At this point in time, the situation on the ground remains tense and unpredictable, with both sides reaffirming their commitment to act in their own interests and with the future of both the Israeli and Palestinian people and the Gaza Strip on the line.