Israel calls for north Gaza residents to evacuate after brief ground raid as offensive widens

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel is warning residents of northern Gaza to evacuate their homes as it widens its offensive.

With Israel massing tanks and soldiers at Gaza's borders, some fear a wider ground offensive is imminent. Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu told a Cabinet meeting today: "It might take a long time."

Palestinians with foreign passports have been leaving Gaza through a border crossing into Israel, which is cooperating in the evacuation.

Early today, Israeli troops launched a brief raid into northern Gaza to destroy what the military describes as a rocket-launching site. Four soldiers were wounded.

Neither Israel nor Palestinian militants show signs of agreeing to a cease-fire, despite calls by the United Nations Security Council and others to end the increasingly bloody six-day offensive.

Israel says it has launched more than 1,300 air strikes since the offensive began, while Palestinian militants have launched more than 800 rockets at Israel. The Palestinian death toll has risen to more than 160. There have been no Israeli fatalities.

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