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Israel Prepares Ground Attack as Gaza Battles Humanitarian Crisis

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The Israel Defense Forces has massed military personnel and equipment at the border, and it said Saturday it was preparing to expand its aerial attack with “an integrated and coordinated attack from the air, sea and land.”

No large-scale ground offensive into Gaza has been announced, but Israel’s military has been telling civilians in Gaza City and other parts of northern Gaza to go south.

The United Nations says that amounts to 1 million people being told to leave in densely populated Gaza, which is 139 square miles.

The World Health Organization said Saturday that forcing patients to move “could be tantamount to a death sentence.” Israel’s military says the order is for the safety of civilians as it attacks Hamas.

Despite discussions among different officials on allowing Americans to leave Gaza through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, the border remained closed and no one has gained passage at yet.

What we know

  • A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Gaza as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians flee from the territory’s north to the south, heeding Israeli warnings to evacuate before an anticipated ground invasion. Their options for seeking safety are extremely limited.
  • Israel’s retaliation comes after Hamas, which rules Gaza, carried out the worst terrorist attack in Israel in decades a week ago, a coordinated assault on kibbutzim a music festival and city streets.
  • Clean water, fuel and medical supplies have all but run out in Gaza, the United Nations said, and electricity has been unavailable for days. The head of Gaza’s largest hospital says it has become a mass shelter, with 35,000 seeking refuge inside.
  • The Israel Defense Forces has massed military personnel and equipment at the border, and it said Saturday it was preparing to expand its aerial attack with “an integrated and coordinated attack from the air, sea and land.”
  • At least 1,300 people — including 265 soldiers — were killed in Israel in the terrorist attack and more than 3,300 were injured. In Gaza, over 2,200 people have been killed and 8,000 have been injured.
  • Twenty-nine Americans have been killed, the State Department said Saturday. Fifteen U.S. citizens are unaccounted-for, as well as one lawful permanent resident.

NBC News’ Lester Holt, Tom Llamas, Richard Engel, Raf Sanchez, Kelly Cobiella, Matt Bradley, Ellison Barber, Chantal Da Silva and Josh Lederman are reporting from the region.

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