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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UK 'acted swiftly' to evacuate nationals from Gaza

In a statement to the Commons on Gaza, Foreign Secretary William Hague said that Britain had "acted swiftly" to ensure the safe departure of 27 British nationals and their Palestinian dependants from Gaza last night.

They left Gaza through Israel to Jordan before travelling onward, MPs were told.

We have acted swiftly to ensure the safe departure of British nationals wanting to leave Gaza.

Late last night we successfully assisted the departure of 27 British nationals and their Palestinian dependants from Gaza through Israel to Jordan for onward travel.

I'm grateful to the UN, FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) staff from London, Gaza, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Amman and to the Israeli and Jordanian authorities for their work to ensure the success of this operation.

– Foreign Secretary William Hague

He said the UK's three objectives are to secure a ceasefire to end the violence affecting Palestinians and Israelis, to alleviate humanitarian suffering, and to "keep alive" the prospect for peace negotiations, which he said is the "only hope of breaking this cycle of violence and devastation once".

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