Israel-Gaza crisis
Palestinians flee their homes, heading to a United Nations-run school in the northern Gaza StripReuters

Hamas has called upon thousands of evacuees from northern Gaza to return to their homes, despite warnings from Israel that more airstrikes are imminent and civilians in the area are "extremely unsafe".

"To all of our people evacuating their homes - return immediately and do not leave your houses. Heeding Israel's warnings only aids [Israel] in achieving its agenda..." Hamas said in a statement.

About 17,000 Palestinian residents and hundreds of foreign nationals have left Gaza through Israeli border crossings. According to the UN, nearly one-fourth of the 70,000 occupants in Beit Lahiya have sought refuge in shelters it has set up.

Israeli forces have dropped thousands of leaflets in northern Gaza and left scores of telephone messages warning of further attacks.

"We do not wish to harm civilians in Gaza, but these civilians must know that remaining in close proximity to Hamas terrorists and infrastructure is extremely unsafe," said Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Sunday (13 July).

In the early hours of Monday (14 July), the northern Gaza remained quiet except for minor incidents.

As the Israeli aerial bombardment enters the seventh day, at least 172 Palestinians have been killed, including 17 members from a single family. Palestinian officials say most of the victims are civilians, chiefly women and children.

The Israeli side has insisted they are targeting only militant targets including residences of senior Hamas figures, However, the UN has also said most of the casualties are civilians.

The IDF has said several rockets were launched from Lebanon and they responded with artillery fire.