Hundreds of Palestinian families, their children crying, fled Wednesday, as Israel intensified airstrikes on Hamas targets, including homes of the movement’s leaders, following failed Egyptian cease-fire efforts.
Before the renewed bombardment, Israel had ordered tens of thousands of residents of border areas to evacuate their neighbourhoods.
The Palestinian death toll in nine days of fighting rose to 204, with 1,450 wounded, Palestinian health officials said. On the Israeli side, one man was killed and several people were wounded since the fighting erupted on July 8.
The website of the Gaza Interior Ministry said Israel warplanes carried out dozens of air strikes before dawn Wednesday, targeting 30 houses, including those of senior Hamas leaders Mahmoud Zahar, Jamila Shanti, Fathi Hamas and Ismail Ashkar.
Alongside the air strikes, Israel also told tens of thousands of residents of the northern town of Beit Lahiya and the Zeitoun and Shijaiyah neighborhoods of Gaza City, all near the border with Israel, to evacuate their homes by 8 am Wednesday.
On Wednesday morning, hundreds of residents of Zeitoun and Shijaiyah were seen walking in the streets, carrying small bags with belongings.