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One million Gazans flee as Israel readies for ground attack


Gaza Strip - More than one million people have fled their homes in Gaza in scenes of chaos and despair as Israel bombarded the Gaza Strip and continued amassing troops Monday in preparation for a full-blown ground invasion.

Israel's relentless bombing campaign of Gaza has flattened neighborhoods and left at least 2,670 people dead in the territory, mainly civilians.

Palestinians carrying whatever belongings they can, in bags and suitcases, or packed onto three-wheeled motorbikes, battered cars, vans, and even donkey carts have become a common sight.

Fleeing the bombardment and following an Israeli order to move to the south of the Gaza Strip, people have had to find shelter wherever they can, including on the streets and in UN-run schools.

"No electricity, no water, no internet. I feel like I'm losing my humanity," said Mona Abdel Hamid, 55, who fled Gaza City to Rafah in the south of the enclave, and is having to stay with strangers.

Israel has massed forces outside the long-blockaded enclave of 2.4 million in preparation for what the army has said would be a land, air, and sea attack involving a "significant ground operation".

Fire along the Israeli-Lebanese border has intensified in the last week, prompting Israel to shutter the area to civilians. On Sunday, a rocket hit the UN peacekeeping base in southern Lebanon, while Hezbollah attacks killed one person in Israel, the Israeli military said. More than 10 people have been killed in Lebanon and at least two in Israel in the past week.

Among those killed in Lebanon was a Reuters journalist, Issam Abdallah.

The Arab League and African Union warned the invasion could lead to "a genocide of unprecedented proportions". UN chief Antonio Guterres has warned that the entire region was "on the verge of the abyss".

The army has told 1.1 million Palestinians in the north of the Gaza Strip to head to the south of the enclave. But Israeli air strikes were continuing in the south, including in Khan Yunis and Rafah, where one resident said a doctor's house was targeted. "All the family was wiped out," said Khamis Abu Hilal.

The UN said Monday that 47 entire families, amounting to around 500 people, have been wiped out in Israel's bombing campaign. Foreign governments and aid agencies, including the UN and Red Cross, have repeatedly criticized Israel's evacuation order.

The UN agency supporting Palestinian refugees said Sunday that some one million Palestinians had already been displaced in the first week of the conflict -- but the number was likely to be higher.

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