In parallel to international condemnation of Israel for the Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip, the United Nations on Sunday warned of a humanitarian crisis if the go-ahead for a ground incursion is given.
The world body said some 25,000 Gazans will be forced to leave their homes in the north of the strip if the army widens its offensive to include residential areas used by gunmen as grounds to fire Qassams into Israel.
An Israeli ground offensive will also lead to widespread problems linked to sanitation and water, food and medicine supply.
"We estimate that 25,000 people could be forced to flee Beit Hanoun if Israel attacks in the north, as it has indicated," Christer Nordahl, the deputy director of the U.N.'s relief agency in Gaza, told Reuters, referring to a town in the area.
"We're making plans to house those internally displaced in schools and are stockpiling medicine and food supplies to ensure that we can take care of them, and others across the Gaza Strip if the need arises."
"Beit Hanoun is a place that the Israeli army is likely to want to occupy and take complete control of because it wants to stop the rockets being fired from there," Nordahl said.
'I don't know if they will be strong enough'
"It would make it very difficult for us to get aid through to the people who need it, creating a much wider humanitarian crisis," Nordahl said.
"From what I hear, the militant factions will be here to protect us and will use all means possible, including suicide attacks," said Moin al-Athamna, 24, an unemployed man who lost his left leg in Israeli-Palestinian clashes in 2000.
"But I don't know if they will be strong enough for the Israeli forces."
Reuters contributed to this report