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Residents flee northern Gaza as Israel warns of more strikes

July 13, 2014 at 5:52 PM EDT
Israel sent out warning leaflets Sunday telling residents in the northern Gaza strip to clear out as Israel prepares for a heavy bombardment of the area. For the latest, Josef Federman of the Associated Press joins Hari Sreenivasan via Skype from Jerusalem.

HARI SREENIVASAN: For the latest we are joined once again tonight via Skype by Josef Federman of The Associated Press. Josef, your story today was about the people who were fleeing Gaza.

JOSEF FEDERMAN: Yes, overnight Israel sent out warning leaflets, they dropped them out of the sky, telling people in the Northern Gaza strip to clear out. Israel is planning heavy bombardment.

We’ve seen a few airstrikes this evening already. In the meantime somewhere 15 and 20 thousand residents of that area have cleared out. They’re on there way to shelters and U.N. schools in safer areas of Gaza.

HARI SREENIVASAN: We’d heard about the commando raid operation inside Gaza but we’d also heard that there was a police chief’s house that was bombed.

JOSEF FEDERMAN: Yes these were two separate incidents. The commando raid took place overnight, it’s the first time that Israel has sent ground forces into Gaza. It was a very brief pinpoint type operation.

They went after or they say they went after a rocket launching site that couldn’t be reached through aerial attacks so they sent in a small team of naval commandos and they were in and out, there were some light injuries actually on the Israeli side.

As for the police chief there was an airstrike last night this was considered a senior target by Israel he is the Hamas police chief of Gaza. The airstrike hit the home where he was staying. Seventeen members of the man’s family were killed but the police chief as of now is still alive.

HARI SREENIVASAN: What about on the diplomatic front any news, any progress?

JOSEF FEDERMAN: There seems to be a lot of movement behind the scenes it’s very hard to figure out what exactly is going on.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who’s in Vienna meeting with many of his Western counterparts right now, called the Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu today, expressed his concerns about the escalating tensions and said that he’s been in touch with some of the key players in the region.

So the U.S. is involved in the behind the scenes efforts. Other members are also involved. Egypt put out a statement, they’re in touch with the UN secretary general other players ranging from Qatar to Turkey, even France, Tunisia–they’re all involved. It’s hard to figure out what exactly is going on. A lot of people are involved.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Alright, Josef Federman of the Associated Press. Thanks so much.