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American Citizens Among Hundreds Fleeing Gaza Airstrikes

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Image: Gaza residents with dual nationality passports gather at the Erez crossing
EREZ, ISRAEL - JULY 13: Gaza residents with dual nationality passports gather at the Erez crossing as they prepare to leave Gaza, on July 13, 2014 in Erez, Israel. Israel's operation 'Protective Edge' has entered a sixth day as the IDF continue to carry out massive airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, killing more than 160 people, the majority of whom are civilians. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)Ilia Yefimovich / Getty Images

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About 150 Palestinian-Americans evacuated from the Gaza Strip Sunday after Israel stepped up its deadly airstrikes - bringing the death toll to 171 and raising fears that a ground invasion is imminent. More than 1,000 have been wounded in the airstrikes, Gaza’s health ministry said. Several Israelis have been wounded, but there have been no fatalities, Israel said.

Palestinians with foreign passports, including dual American citizens, began leaving Gaza through the Erez border crossing Sunday. “My body is leaving Gaza but my heart will always be here,” said Akram Mustasha, from Houston, Texas, who had been in the area on summer vacation until violence became unbearable. Rawan Mohanna, a 21-year-old chemistry major at the University of Texas who was in the area for a family wedding, said: "We are so fortunate ... that we have the right to travel. People in Gaza, they can't even leave, and that's such a basic right.”

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- Ayman Mohyeldin, Lawahez Jabari and Alastair Jamieson

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Editorial note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said 300 people were evacuated.

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