Palestinians flee Israeli attacks as mediators push for truce

Israeli forces on Monday intensified attacks and expanded an evacuation order for Gaza City, with a new wave of residents fleeing the territory’s main city amid intense fighting.

Civilians have now been ordered out of the majority of the Gaza Strip’s largest city, where thousands of families had taken shelter from fighting in other parts of the war-stricken territory.

Backed by fighter jet and drone attacks, columns of tanks took up positions around the city, while an army spokesman warned residents of the Sabra, Rimal, Tal Al-Hawa and Al-Daraj districts to flee to so-called “humanitarian zones”.

The civil defence agency in the territory said even before the additional warning that it had reports of “dozens” of dead and wounded from night-time fighting in different parts of the city.

Israel’s military offensive has killed at least 38,193 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data from the territory’s health ministry.

The toll includes at least 40 deaths over the previous 24 hours, it said.

Diplomatic efforts to halt the fighting aim for an initial six-week ceasefire that would see some hostages in Gaza freed in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, but talks would continue for a comprehensive deal to end the war.

Hamas has signalled it would drop its insistence on a “complete” ceasefire, a demand Israel has repeatedly rejected.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office reiterated in a statement that “any deal will allow Israel to return and fight until all the goals of the war are achieved”.

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