Middle East
3:22 pm
Sun July 13, 2014

Palestinians With Foreign Passports Leave Gaza As Attacks Continue

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Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

We're going to go now to Gaza. Where thousands of people are on the move, looking for safety in shelters or trying to flee Gaza altogether. This as fighting between Israel and the militant group Hamas continues. At least 160 Palestinians have died so far in the conflict. Gaza militants continue to fire dozens of rockets at Tel Aviv and other central Israeli cities. One Israeli teenager was seriously injured and one of the rockets hit near the Northern city of Haifa, that's the farthest a rocket from Gaza has ever gone. Israel says its military offensive will continue until Hamas stops firing these rockets. Daniel Estrin reports from Jerusalem.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: There were a lot of people in Gaza today who packed up and fled. In the morning Palestinians from the Northern Gaza Strip piled their belongings on donkeys and horses and moved to a neighboring area. Several thousand Palestinians evacuated after Israeli warplanes dropped leaflets warning them of planned airstrikes. Israel says militants have launched rockets from the area. Around 17,000 Palestinians have moved into United Nations shelters in Gaza and Israel said about 800 Palestinians with foreign passports also left Gaza today through the Israeli border crossing. There were 150 American citizens among them including Zeina Mohanna from Dallas Texas, who described her experience.

ZEINA MOHANNA: You don't sleep at night, you are worried about what's going to happen next.

ESTRIN: The Israeli army said it facilitated the transfer of food, fuel and blood donations to Palestinians in Gaza and Israel said Special Forces carried out a brief ground invasion into Gaza today to destroy a rocket launching site. It is the first time soldiers are known to have entered Gaza during the current offensive. Four soldiers were injured and the troops crossed back into Israel. Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner says the military is ready to carry out a larger scale ground invasion if ordered.

LIEUTENANT COLONOL PETER LERNER: We are currently based on the border with Gaza with enough forces to mobilize immediately. I think generally the idea from day one has not aspired with huge enthusiasm to go in on a ground operation, but it's possible.

ESTRIN: Germany's Foreign Minister is due in Israel tomorrow, to talk about the conflict with Israelis and Palestinians. And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today and offered help to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. So far both sides are vowing to continue the fight. For NPR News I'm Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.