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IDF warns northern Gaza residents to leave ahead of airstrikes

JTA

July 16, 2014 | 8:33 am

<em>Smoke and flames are seen following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on July 16. Photo by Ahmed Zakot/Reuters</em>

Smoke and flames are seen following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on July 16. Photo by Ahmed Zakot/Reuters

The Israeli military warned residents in three northern Gaza cities to evacuate their homes ahead of planned airstrikes.

Recorded phone and text messages telling the residents of Beit Lahyia, Shuja’iya and Zeitoun to leave were delivered early Wednesday morning. Leaflets also were dropped throughout the area.

The messages said that a high volume of rockets being shot at Israel were originating from these areas and that the Israel Defense Forces planned to carry out aerial strikes on targets in the communities.

“The IDF does not want to harm you, and your families,” the message said. “The evacuation is for your own safety. You should not return to the premises until further notice. Whoever disregards these instructions and fails to evacuate immediately, endangers their own lives, as well as those of their families.”

Hamas told the civilian residents of the communities to disregard the warnings, according to the IDF.

Overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, the IDF said it targeted at least 39 of what it called terror targets, four people it identified as terrorists, and command and control centers used by senior Hamas leadership and other terrorists.

Since Tuesday afternoon, when Israel halted its unilateral observance of a cease-fire, the IDF said it struck some 100 targets, about half of which were rocket launchers, as well as terror tunnels, weapon storage and manufacturing facilities, and various military compounds and facilities.

In total, throughout Operation Protective Edge, the IDF said it has struck about 1,825 terror-related targets across the Gaza Strip.

More than 200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed during the operation. One Israeli was killed Tuesday — the first Israeli fatality in the conflict.

At least 20 rockets were fired Wednesday morning at Israel from Gaza, including a large salvo at Tel Aviv that was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Shrapnel from one of the rockets fell through the roof of a home in south Tel Aviv, landing in a bedroom.

Since the beginning of the operation nine days ago, more than 1,260 rockets have been launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, extending beyond targets in the south and reaching to the center and north of the country. Some 225 rockets have been intercepted by Iron Dome, with an overall success rate of 86 percent, according to the IDF.

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