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Gaza's desperate civilians search for food, water and safety, as warnings of Israeli offensive mount

Gaza’s 2.3 million civilians are facing a deepening struggle for food, water and safety as an Israeli military offensive looms against Hamas militants

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Gaza’s 2.3 million civilians faced a deepening struggle for food, water and safety Sunday and braced for a looming invasion a week after Hamas militants launched a deadly assault on Israel. While hundreds of thousands of Gaza residents sought to heed Israel’s order to evacuate roughly the northern half of the territory, others huddled at hospitals in the north.

Israeli forces, supported by a growing deployment of U.S. warships in the region, positioned themselves along Gaza’s border and drilled for what Israel said would be a campaign by air, land and sea to dismantle the militant group.

In Israel, pathologists and others at a military base worked through the Jewish Sabbath to identify the more than 1,300 Israelis and others killed in Hamas's Oct. 7 assault. The Gaza Health Ministry said Saturday that over 2,200 people have been killed in the territory, including 724 children and 458 women.

Israel dropped leaflets over Gaza City in the north and renewed warnings on social media, ordering more than 1 million Gaza residents to move south. The military says it is trying to clear away civilians ahead of a concentrated campaign against Hamas militants in the north, including in what it said were underground hideouts in Gaza City. Hamas urged people to stay in their homes.