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UNRWA: More than 30,000 Gazans fled to shelters since Thursday

July 18, 2014 3:39 P.M. (Updated: July 19, 2014 9:38 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The UN's Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA said on Friday that more than 30,000 people had fled their homes to take shelter in 34 UNRWA schools located across the Gaza Strip since Thursday.

Before Thursday, UNRWA estimated that 20,000 Palestinians had fled their homes as a result of an Israeli assault now in its 11th day, but that number has now more than doubled since Israel launched a ground assault in the northern and southern Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces have also issued multiple evacuation orders across the northern Gaza Strip since the conflict began, instructing more than 100,000 Palestinians to leave their homes in order to allow the military to carry out operations.

Although Israel has highlighted the evacuation orders as part of its strategy to avoid civilian casualties, Gazans have pointed out that because all borders are closed, they have nowhere to flee to.

Additionally, Israel has in the past said that all those who remain in their homes will be considered potential targets for military operations, leaving tens of thousands with nowhere to go in a precarious situation.

UNRWA said in the statement that they will begin distributing emergency food supplies on July 23 instead of August 3, as they had previously planned to do.

They also said that they will be giving a basket of supplies to a limited number of families, and that the families and the contents of the basket will be determined after evaluating the damages.

Since Israel began its assault on the Gaza Strip 11 days ago, 265 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,000 injured, while two Israelis have died and six have been injured.

Prior to the conflict, more than half of the Gaza Strip's 1.7 million inhabitants were classified as refugees, being forced from their original homes inside what is now Israel by Zionist forces in 1948.

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