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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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Hague: 'Bold leadership' needed to end Gaza violence

Foreign Secretary William Hague has called for "bold leadership" from both Israel and the Palestinians to end the violence in the region.

A Palestinian protester argues with an Israeli Army soldier. Credit: REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini

He said: "This is a time for bold leadership. Both sides should take the necessary steps towards a lasting peace and to address the underlying causes of the conflict and instability in Gaza."

He added that a "fundamental transformation" of the situation was needed including the restoration of Palestinian Authority control, the opening up of legitimate movement and access and a permanent end to the unacceptable threat of rocket attacks and other forms of violence from Gaza against Israel.

"It is also a stark reminder of the need to make progress toward a permanent peace, based on the two-state solution," he said. "However difficult that looks at this time, there is no alternative that can deliver peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians."

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