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GAZA CITY, Palestine: The text message was as urgent as it was unwelcome: The Israeli army advised Mouin Ghaffir to leave his home quickly or risk being killed in airstrikes against Hamas rocket squads.He swiftly sent his wife and 11 children to a dirty U.N. emergency shelter, with more than 40 people crammed in each classroom, but had to endure a night under bombardment at home after failing to find a safe place for his ailing 75-year-old mother.It holds Hamas responsible for the ordeal of Gaza's 1.7 million people, saying Hamas fighters fire rockets toward Israel from residential areas, effectively using civilians as human shields.The Israeli army did not say how many homes it sent the warnings to, but the three areas – the town of Beit Lahiya and the sprawling Gaza City neighborhoods of Zeitoun and Shijaiyah – have a combined population of well over 300,000 people.Israel holds Hamas, which has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in the past nine days, responsible for the civilians' predicament.Weiss said the military meets its obligations for safeguarding civilians by sending the warnings.The army also needs to make sure the civilian population can act on the warnings.
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