Residents of several towns in the northern Gaza Strip received airdrops of leaflets on Sunday morning, July 13th, warning them to leave their homes by noon, or risk being bombed. This is despite the fact that there are no shelters in Gaza and all of the borders are sealed.The leaflets state, “It is the intention of the Israeli military to attack from the air terror infrastructure and terrorists in the area east of Al-Attara. Residents must evacuate their homes by 12 pm, noon, today heading south towards Jabalia.’
They continue, “The military’s operation will be temporary and short. Those who do not adhere to these directives will jeopardize their own lives and the lives of their families. Be careful, stay safe.’
A spokesperson for the Israeli military said that there will be a major military operation in northern Gaza on Sunday, and warned that “This will increase the amount of casualties.” The military has already dropped over 2,000 tons of bombs on the crowded coastal Strip over the past five days, killing over 170 Palestinians. No Israelis have been killed or wounded in this same period.
The United Nations has estimated that nearly 80% of the victims are civilians. While Israeli officials claim that it is necessary to target civilian areas because “Hamas members hid behind civilians”, the bombings have resulted in very few Hamas members being killed – and those who have been identified as having a connection with the political party were not involved in any hostilities at the time they were targeted for assassination by missile.
In addition, the claim that Israel has targeted civilian buildings where Palestinian fighters store weapons has been questioned by eyewitnesses of these attacks, who say that no ‘secondary explosions’ have been heard, which would be the case if there were weapons stored in a building.
In the case of the town of al-Attara and nearby neighborhoods that received the warning leaflets Sunday morning, the residents have received no indication as to where they will be able to go to avoid bombardment, as IMEMC Gaza correspondent Rami Almeghari has pointed out, “No part of Gaza is safe at this point. There is no place that has escaped bombardment.”
The Israeli military commander said, in the statement, that they will be targeting civilian areas in al-Attara because ‘We have identified more rocket fire from the northern Strip than other sectors.”
Several hundred homemade shells have been fired toward Israel since the Israeli bombardment began on Tuesday. They have caused no casualties. In contrast, as of Saturday, over 2,500 Israeli bombs have been dropped on Gaza. These include 456 naval rockets, 1,604 air raids and nearly 500 artillery shells.
In addition to the 174 Palestinians killed, an additional 1,089 have been wounded, including 349 children, 171 women and 576 men. The Israeli bombs have targeted mosques and schools, destroying 3 mosques completely and 16 partially. 33 schools have been damaged. 6 hospitals have been targeted and partially damaged, including a center for the disabled where two disabled women were killed and scores of others were wounded.
Despite Israeli claims that these sites were ‘hideouts’ for Hamas, no Hamas fighters were among those killed in these attacks, and no secondary explosions occurred when the sites were bombed.