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UN Calls for Gaza Ceasefire

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Israeli army soldiers atop of APC fire a mortar in southern Israel near the border with Gaza, on the 12th day of Operation Protective Edge, on July 19, 2014. Two Israeli soldiers were killed in a fire exchange with Palestinian militants who infiltrated Israeli turf through a Gaza tunnel earlier on Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed in a statement.

The UN Security Council has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza after holding an emergency closed-door meeting on the crisis. The talks came after the UN chief described Israel’s shelling of a Gaza City suburb as “an atrocious action”, BBC reported.

Israeli army soldiers atop of APC fire a mortar in southern Israel near the border with Gaza, on the 12th day of Operation Protective Edge, on July 19, 2014. Two Israeli soldiers were killed in a fire exchange with Palestinian militants who infiltrated Israeli turf through a Gaza tunnel earlier on Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed in a statement.
Israeli army soldiers atop of APC fire a mortar in southern Israel near the border with Gaza, on the 12th day of Operation Protective Edge, on July 19, 2014. Two Israeli soldiers were killed in a fire exchange with Palestinian militants who infiltrated Israeli turf through a Gaza tunnel earlier on Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed in a statement.

A total of 501 people have now died in Gaza during Israel’s operation against Hamas militants, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, with 3,135 injured.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is due in Egypt to discuss the crisis. He will meet political leaders in Cairo on Monday, as efforts to broker a ceasefire continue.

On Sunday Gaza saw its deadliest day since the Israeli offensive began on 8 July, with 13 Israeli soldiers and more than 100 Palestinians killed. Twenty Palestinians have been killed in strikes so far on Monday, the Gaza health ministry says, 16 of them in southern Gaza.

The UN Security Council session was convened at the request of Jordan, which is understood to have proposed a strongly worded draft resolution for consideration. However, members could only agree on “elements to the press,” the weakest form of Security Council action, says the BBC’s UN correspondent Nick Bryant.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue operations “as much as we need to” despite the number of Israeli soldiers killed rising to 18 at the weekend. Two of the soldiers killed were American citizens, US state department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

Sunday’s death toll for Israel’s military is higher than that sustained during the entire three-week duration of Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, the last time Israel sent troops into Gaza.

The deaths of so many soldiers on a single day will shock Israeli society, the BBC’s Chris Morris reports from southern Israel.
Hamas said on Sunday evening that it had captured a member of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), prompting celebrations on the streets of Gaza and West Bank.

The UN says 83,695 people have now been displaced in Gaza and that the figure is “rising all the time”.

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