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WAR REPORT
New Israeli strike kills six in Gaza City
by Staff Writers
Gaza City, Palestinian Territories (AFP) Nov 20, 2012


Israel army leaflet warns Gazans to leave homes
Gaza City, Palestinian Territories (AFP) Nov 20, 2012 - Israel's air force dropped leaflets across several districts of Gaza City on Tuesday urging people to evacuate their homes "immediately" amid fears of an imminent ground invasion.

"For your own safety, you are required to immediately evacuate your homes and move toward Gaza City centre," the one-page Arabic-language leaflet said.

The message directed residents to use specific roads to move out of their neighbourhoods, which form a crescent around the southern half of the city centre.

The leaflets were dropped shortly before Gaza health officials said a new wave of Israeli air strikes killed five people and wounded two others.

Among the districts named were Sheikh Ajlin, Tel al-Hawa, Rimal, Zeitun, Shejaiya-Turkman and Shejaiya-Jadida.

The message gave no reason for the order but pledged that everyone who complied would be safe.

"This is a temporary confrontation. In the end, everyone will go home," the leaflet said on the seventh-day of Israel's fiercest assault on the coastal enclave in four years.

"In keeping with Israel Defence Forces (army) regulations, all civilians will be kept from harm's way."

A military statement confirmed that two sets of leaflets were dropped across various districts of Gaza City with specific instructions about where residents should go.

But the statement failed to mention the security pledge to civilians or the reference to a "temporary" campaign.

An army spokeswoman said leaflets had been dropped over Gaza on previous occasions during the current offensive but did not say why they were dropped on this occasion as well.

The latest drop came as Hamas militants fired a long-range rocket at Jerusalem that landed just 15 kilometres (nine miles) south of the Holy City.

It came as Israel weighed whether to expand its aerial campaign into a ground incursion or agree to an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire being put together through indirect talks between Israeli and Hamas officials in Cairo.

A senior Israeli official earlier Tuesday said the leadership had decided to postpone a decision on a ground operation "to give diplomacy a chance to succeed."

An Israeli air strike on Gaza City killed six people on Tuesday, raising the day's toll to 14, the Hamas health ministry said.

"Six people were killed and two others wounded in the Sabra neighbourhood," health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP.

Separately, the Hamas ambulance service announced the deaths of two children in an air strike in the Zeitun neighbourhood of Gaza City.

"Two children were martyred, arriving at the Shifa hospital in pieces, and another two children were injured in a strike on the Zeitun neighbourhood," it said a statement.

It said the deaths in Sabra came in two air strikes that targeted two cars, and footage broadcast on Hamas's al-Aqsa television showed the mangled remains of several vehicles.

Earlier medics said another six people were killed in a wave of strikes across the territory, ending a night of relative calm in which no-one was killed for the first time since Israel launched its relentless aerial assault on November 14, medics said.

More than 920 people have been injured in the bombing campaign.

The Hamas-run emergency services named the earlier victims as Abdel Rahman Hamed, who died in Safina just north of Gaza City, and Mohammed Badr who was killed in a strike on Deir al-Balah in central Gaza.

Elsewhere, 15-year-old Yahya Mohammed Awad was killed as he hunted birds near the beach when a missile hit the northern Sudaniya area, and two men died in the nearby town of Beit Lahiya: Yahya Maaruf, a farmer who was working his land, and another man called Bilal Birawi, 20.

And in Mughraqa, just south of Gaza City, another strike killed Mahmud Rizk al-Zahar, he said.

Overnight, the Israeli military said it attacked about 100 targets with a combination of aircraft, warships and artillery, one of which targeted "a financial institution used by Hamas".

Palestinian officials confirmed that the National Islamic Bank in Gaza City, which was set up by the Islamist movement that runs Gaza, was severely damaged in a raid.

Hamas officials and witnesses also told AFP that strikes hit the homes of several leaders within its armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

Among those targeted were the homes of senior Hamas military commander Raed Aatar in the southern city of Rafah, as well as that of Abu Anza, a Qassam official in Khan Yunis, also in the south, where raids also targeted Islamic Jihad offices.

Monday was the bloodiest day of the Israeli operation since it was launched on Wednesday, with 33 people killed.

During the late evening, a family of four was killed in an attack on Beit Lahiya, and two teenage brothers were killed in Rafah.

During the day, warplanes had attacked Gaza City's Shuruq tower media centre -- the second time the building has been targeted -- killing a senior Islamic Jihad militant.

Islamic Jihad sources named him as Ramez Harb and said he was a senior commander in its armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades.

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