UN chief describes Gaza as being 'on a knife edge'

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged restraint in the Middle East, describing Gaza as being "on a knife edge".

Ban said: "I am alarmed by the new wave of violence that has engulfed Gaza, southern Israel, and the West Bank - including east Jerusalem. This is one of the most critical tests the region has faced in recent years.

An explosion in Gaza City.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Gaza is 'on a knife edge'. Credit: Eyad Al-Baba / Anadolu Agency

"The risk of violence expanding further still is real. Gaza and the region as a whole cannot afford any other full-blown war.

"I also urged the Prime Minister Netanyahu to exercise maximum restraint and to respect international obligations to protect civilians."

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Israel launches ground offensive in Gaza as air strikes continue

Israel has launched a ground offensive in Gaza with residents reporting heavy shelling in the area. Palestinian health officials say 27 Palestinians, including a baby, two children and a 70-year-old woman, have been killed since Israel sent ground forces into the densely-populated strip of 1.8 million Palestinians.