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Israeli authorities partially evacuated a southern town that has suffered heavy Palestinian shelling.

Approximately 250 families were transported from Sderot to a military leisure center in Givat Olga on Thursday, part of a government program to relieve pressure on the town amid a surge of rocket salvoes from the nearby Gaza Strip.

Government officials described the evacuations as a temporary “refreshment” for a select group of needy townspeople rather than a mass flight in the face of a 6-year-old rocket threat that Israel has not managed to stem.

Hundreds of residents of Sderot, a town of 23,000, left earlier this week for temporary lodgings provided by Israeli volunteer groups and Arkady Gaydamak, a Russian emigre billionaire.

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