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 pleads for end to Gaza violence

The UN Security Council has called for a ceasefire between Palestinians and Israelis and expressed serious concern about the welfare and protection of civilians on both sides.

A Palestinian protester holds a picture of Gaza's victims. Credit: REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusin

In a statement, the 15 member body said: "The Security Council members called for de-escalation of the situation, restoration of calm, and reinstitution of the November 2012 ceasefire."

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