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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.

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UN concerned about Israeli attacks on civilian areas

The United Nations human rights chief has voiced serious doubts that Israeli's military operation against Gaza complied with international law banning the targeting of civilians.

International law requires Israel to take all measures to ensure that its attacks are proportional, distinguish between military and civilian objects, and avoid civilian casualties, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said.

Palestinians look at remains of a missile said to have been fired at Gaza by Israel. Credit: Reuters

"We have received deeply disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes," Pillay said in a statement.

"Such reports raise serious doubt about whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law."

Pillay also called on Palestinian armed groups to uphold international law, noting that military assets should not be located in densely-populated areas, nor should attacks be launched from those areas.

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