Thousands flee Gaza as toll tops 160, UNSC calls for ceasefire

Thousands fled their homes in a Gaza town on Sunday after Israel warned them to leave ahead of threatened attacks on rocket-launching sites, on the sixth day of an offensive that Palestinian officials said has killed at least 160 people.

‘Those who fail to comply with the instructions will endanger their lives and the lives of their families. Beware,’ read a leaflet dropped by the Israeli military in the town of Beit Lahiya, near the border with Israel.

A Palestinian woman and a girl, aged 3, were killed in Israeli air strikes early on Sunday, Gaza’s health ministry said. Hours earlier, the ministry said 18 people were killed when the house of Gaza’s police chief was bombed from the air in the single deadliest attack of Israel’s offensive.
Despite intensified Israeli military action–which included a commando raid overnight in what was Israel’s first reported ground action in Gaza during the current fighting–militants continued to launch rocket after rocket across the border.

Israeli leaflets dropped on Beit Lahiya, where 70,000 Palestinians live, said civilians in three of its 10 neighbourhoods were ‘requested to evacuate their residences’ and move south, deeper into the Gaza Strip, by 12pm (0900 GMT).

The Gaza interior ministry, in a statement on Hamas radio, dismissed the Israeli warnings as ‘psychological warfare’ and instructed those who left their homes to return and others to stay put.
The UN Security Council called for a ceasefire in hostilities between Palestinians and Israelis and expressed serious concern about the welfare and protection of civilians on both sides. It also expressed ‘serious concern regarding the escalated crisis.
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