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Israel Launches Airstrikes After Telling Gaza Residents to Flee

iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- Israel launched a new round of airstrikes Wednesday, targeting senior Hamas officials in the enduring conflict with militants in Gaza.

The airstrikes come as the death toll for the nine-day conflict reached 208, all but one of them Palestinians, many of them civilians and children. At least 1,550 people have been injured in Gaza since fighting broke out last week, health officials say.

Hamas countered by firing rockets. Many of the rockets were intercepted by Israel’s so-called Iron Dome missile defense system.

Before Wednesday’s airstrikes, tens of thousands of residents in Gaza received phone calls and leaflets advising them to evacuate their homes.

“The evacuation is for your own safety,” the leaflets read. “You should not return to the premises until further notice. Whoever disregards these instructions and fails to evacuate immediately, endangers their own lives, as well as those of their families.”

The latest Israeli barrage comes one day after Israel’s Cabinet approved a cease-fire measure proposed by Egypt. But after Hamas rejected the terms of the cease-fire and fired 47 rockets at Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unleashed his military again.

"Hamas chose to continue fighting and will pay the price for that decision," Netanyahu said.

The battle has broken a two-year lull in hostilities between Israel and Hamas and was triggered by the slaying of three Israeli teens and revenge burning death of a Palestinian teen. Angry protests escalated to rocket launches and retaliatory air strikes.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio