GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip
Thousands of Palestinian residents of the northern Gaza Strip fled their homes on Sunday and sought safety in U.N. shelters, heeding warnings from the Israeli military about impending plans to bomb the area in the sixth day of an offensive against Hamas that has killed more than 160 people.
The fighting showed no signs of slowing, despite international calls for a cease-fire and growing concerns about the mounting civilian death toll in Gaza. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and voiced U.S. “readiness” to help restore calm, while Egypt, a key mediator between Israel and Hamas, continued to work behind the scenes.
Amid the diplomacy, Israel said it was pushing forward with preparations for a possible ground invasion of Gaza. Thousands of troops have massed along the border in recent days.
“We don’t know when the operation will end,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday. “It might take a long time.” He said the military was prepared “for all possibilities.”