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Israel calls for north Gaza residents to evacuate after brief ground raid as offensive widens

Sunday - 7/13/2014, 8:20am  ET

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel is warning residents of northern Gaza to evacuate their homes as it widens its offensive.

With Israel massing tanks and soldiers at Gaza's borders, some fear a wider ground offensive is imminent. Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu told a Cabinet meeting today: "It might take a long time."

Palestinians with foreign passports have been leaving Gaza through a border crossing into Israel, which is cooperating in the evacuation.

Early today, Israeli troops launched a brief raid into northern Gaza to destroy what the military describes as a rocket-launching site. Four soldiers were wounded.

Neither Israel nor Palestinian militants show signs of agreeing to a cease-fire, despite calls by the United Nations Security Council and others to end the increasingly bloody six-day offensive.

Israel says it has launched more than 1,300 air strikes since the offensive began, while Palestinian militants have launched more than 800 rockets at Israel. The Palestinian death toll has risen to more than 160. There have been no Israeli fatalities.

%@AP Links

057-r-11-(Sound of incoming missiles reaching their targets and exploding in succession., from rooftop camera tracking Gaza skyline)--Sound of incoming missiles reaching their targets and exploding in succession in Gaza City. (13 Jul 2014)

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036-r-13-(Sound of sirens, as ambulances arrive at a hospital in Gaza City with casualties from Israeli air strikes)--Sound of sirens as ambulances arrive at a hospital in Gaza City with casualties from Israeli air strike. (13 Jul 2014)

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040-r-10-(Sound of siren blaring, in central Jerusalem)--Sound of siren blaring in central Jerusalem. (13 Jul 2014)

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038-r-17-(Sound of armored personnel carriers, driving over the sand in southern Israel)--Sound of armored personnel carriers, driving over the sand in southern Israel. (13 Jul 2014)

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APPHOTO HM109: Palestinians flee their homes to take shelter at the United Nations school in Gaza City, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Israel briefly deployed ground troops inside the Gaza Strip for the first time early Sunday as its military warned northern residents to evacuate their homes, part of a widening campaign against militant rocket fire that's seen more than 160 Palestinians killed. Israel accuses Hamas of using Gaza's civilians as human shields by firing rockets from there. Critics say Israel's heavy bombardment of one of the most densely populated territories in the world is itself the main factor putting civilians at risk. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa) (13 Jul 2014)

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APPHOTO HM103: Palestinians gather outside the damaged house of Gaza's police chief Taysir al-Batsh after it was hit by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City, Sunday, July 13, 2014. The strike that hit the home and damaged a nearby mosque as evening prayers ended Saturday, killed at least 18 people, wounded 50 and left some people believed to be trapped under the rubble, said Palestinian Health Ministry official Ashraf al-Kidra. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa) (13 Jul 2014)

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APPHOTO KH108: Displaced Palestinians seek refuge in a United Nations school in Gaza City after fleeing their homes Sunday, July 13, 2014. Israel has called on residents of the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate their homes, suggesting a coming attack after its troops earlier launched a brief raid. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra) (13 Jul 2014)

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