Thousands of Palestinians flee fighting in Gaza City, mediators push for truce deal

Heavy fighting raged in the besieged north of the Gaza Strip on Monday, forcing thousands of Palestinians to pick up their belongings and flee from Gaza City. Israeli tanks and troops moved into the city as ceasefire mediators Egypt and Qatar prepared to host new truce talks this week.

Thousands of Palestinians fled heavy battles in Gaza City on Monday, as Israel's military expanded an evacuation order nine months into its war with Hamas militants.

While fighting raged, Hamas and Israel staked their claims for truce talks as mediators Egypt and Qatar were due to host new meetings this week, according to officials.

Israeli troops and tanks pushed into parts of Gaza City, in the besieged territory's north, and battled Palestinian militants.

Thousands were on the move again, according to the Civil Defence agency in the Hamas-run territory. Witnesses said messages on loudspeakers urged civilians to leave Gaza City's Al-Daraj and Al-Tuffah neighbourhoods.

AFP photographers saw Palestinians leave on foot, bikes and on donkey carts, carrying their belongings through rubble-strewn streets.

Muhammad Bisan said he had been through "an indescribable night" in Gaza City.

"Planes and artillery are bombing and drones are firing from all directions, and we do not know where to run, right or left," he told AFP.

The toll includes at least 40 deaths over the previous 24 hours, it said.


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