GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Israeli army on Saturday warned Palestinians who have fled their homes since the beginning of the ground assault not to return, stressing that the army would not hesitate to use force against them.
The warning came as thousands returned to see the area and remove their possessions from destroyed homes, amid a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire set to expire at 8 p.m.
The Israeli army's Arabic-language spokesman Avichay Adraee said in a statement that those who stayed on in the neighborhood past the end of the ceasefire would be "putting their lives in danger," as the army is expected to resume a heavy assault that has taken nearly 1,000 Palestinian lives so far.
Many Gazans have been left with nowhere to go, as Israel has extended the security "buffer zone" into a total of 43 percent of Gaza's land area and all borders remain closed shut.
Total evacuation orders in effect across large swathes of northern, central, and southern Gaza, according to the UN's Palestine refugee agency UNRWA, and the Israeli army has made it clear that it would treat those civilians that stayed behind as combatants.
More than 100,000 have taken refuge in UN-designated shelters, a few of which have been bombed by Israeli forces in recent days despite the fact that their coordinates have been formally given to Israeli authorities.