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Welcome to our live coverage of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

As Sunday dawned in the Middle East, the Israeli military followed through on a promise to intensify its bombardment of the Gaza Strip, its stated aim being to minimise the threat to its soldiers when they begin an anticipated ground invasion.

Israel has repeatedly warned residents of northern Gaza, of whom there are more than a million, to move south for their safety. According to the United Nations, more than half of the Gazan population is now internally displaced.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed to still be in and around Gaza City in the north, as they’re either unwilling or unable to leave.

Read on for the latest news.

‘Shut up’: Protesters slapped down

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Kingdom, has gone on television to say pro-Palestinian protesters attending rallies in the nation to intimidate or express hatred for Jewish people should “shut up”.

He stressed that most protesters were not acting in such a way.

Dr Zomlot’s remarks came the morning after roughly 100,000 pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in the British capital, London.

There have also been demonstrations in Australia, one of which turned ugly when protesters chanted “gas the Jews” in front of the Sydney Opera House.

“This is abhorrent, unacceptable. Those people hijack our cause for their own twisted logic,” the ambassador said of the crowd’s unsavoury elements.

“The Jewish people have nothing to do with it. This is not a religious conflict. Many of those who demonstrated for Palestine yesterday were Jews. Many of those strong voices are the Jewish people defending us.

Those who have hate in their hearts for Jews would have hate in their hearts for Muslims and Christians. We have nothing to do with them and they should shut up.”

Dr Zomlot represents the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), which is officially recognised as the international spokesman for the Palestinian people. It runs the Palestine National Authority, which governs the West Bank, and is more moderate than Hamas.

During his Sky News interview, Dr Zomlot was asked whether the atrocities committed by Hamas during its attack on Israel had made the PLO’s ultimate goal of a two-state solution “less likely”.

The ambassador responded by accusing “successive Israeli governments”, over a period spanning decades, of “undermining” the two-state solution.

“Now creating a Palestinian state is becoming more and more an impossibility,” he said.

“Hamas, and all other groups, are part of that failure to actually head in the direction we wanted to be heading.

“I think the Israeli unwillingness to really go genuinely on that path has created this situation.

“What Israel is doing right now has nothing to do with Hamas. It’s revenge, and supremacists who want to use the moment to actually finish off (the two-state solution).”

Pressed repeatedly to address Hamas’s actions specifically, he did not.

Dispute over chilling message to civilians

Israel has hit back at claims about the wording of leaflets it dropped into Gaza on Saturday, as part of its continuing warnings that civilians should evacuate south.

The message, bearing the IDF’s logo and written in Arabic, was widely reported as saying: “Urgent warning to residents of Gaza. Your presence north of Wadi Gaza puts your life in danger. Whoever chooses not to leave north Gaza to the south of Wadi Gaza might be identified as an accomplice in a terrorist organisation.”

This was taken, by many, to imply that Israel will consider any civilians who remain in northern Gaza “accomplices” of Hamas.

The IDF insists that translation is “imprecise”.

“The translation from Arabic that has now spread across platforms is imprecise,” the IDF said in a statement.

“To clarify, the IDF has no intention of considering those who have yet to evacuate a member of a terrorist group.

“The IDF states, once again, for the safety of Gazan civilians, that they should evacuate to the south of Wadi Gaza.

“All those who remain are endangering themselves due to the Hamas’s terrorist activities within civilian areas.”

Despite its warnings to move south, Israel has continued to launch air strikes in the southern Gaza Strip has well as in the north.

Israel warns it will cut off ‘snake’s head’

A prominent minister in the Israeli government has warned it will attack Iran and cut off “the head of the snake” if Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, joins forces with Hamas.

Hezbollah, a political party and militant group based in Lebanon, is considered a terrorist organisation by Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and a lengthy list of other nations, including members of the Arab League. The European Union only classifies its military wing as such.

Speaking to Britain’s Daily Mail, Israel’s Minister of the Economy, Nir Barkat, expressed his worry that Hezbollah would open up a “northern front” in the war.

He added that Iran’s clerics would be “wiped off the face of the earth” if that happened.

“We will not just retaliate to those fronts, but we will go to the head of the snake, which is Iran,” said Mr Barkat.

“Israel has a very clear message to our enemies. Look what’s happening in Gaza. You are going to get the same treatment if you attack us.”

He said Lebanon would face a fate “similar to what Hamas is going to pay” if it allowed its territory to be used as a launch pad.

– with AFP

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By Rahul

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