GAZA CITY: The number of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in the latest round of Gaza violence rose to 472, medics said, after announcing the deaths of another 34 people early Monday.
Emergency services spokesperson for the Gaza Strip Ashraf al-Qudra said two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli air strike in eastern Gaza city. He said the body of another Palestinian was found buried under a demolished home east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza.
Qudra said 72 of the Palestinians had been killed on Sunday in Shejaiya, between Gaza City and the Israeli border.
Qudra said 80 percent of the Shejaiya fatalities were "old men, women and children." He said another 400 Palestinians were wounded there.
Qudra's toll included deaths over the past 15 days.
Since the Israeli military started Operation Protective Edge on July 8 in a bid to stamp out rocket fire, Palestinian militants have fired 1,414 mortars and rockets that hit Israel, with the Iron Dome air defence system intercepting another 377, the army said.
On Sunday the Israeli army said 13 soldiers had been killed inside Gaza on the third day of a major ground operation, raising to 18 the number of soldiers killed since the ground operation began late on Thursday.
Another two Israeli civilians had been killed by rocket fire from Gaza.
UN Security Council opens urgent talks on Gaza
The UN Security Council on Sunday opened urgent talks on the escalating violence in Gaza to consider ways of stepping up ceasefire efforts.
The 15-member Council met as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was holding talks with leaders in the region amid a spike in violence that left more than 100 Palestinians dead in a single day.
"We have to know from the secretary-general the result of his efforts, his travels and whether there is any hope of moving forward to a ceasefire," said French Ambassador Gerard Araud as he headed into the meeting.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas had called for the urgent talks, saying the "situation is intolerable" in Gaza and describing the Israeli attacks as "crimes against humanity."
Obama urges 'immediate ceasefire,' sends Kerry for talks
President Barack Obama called for an "immediate ceasefire" in Gaza on Sunday, on the bloodiest day of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians, and dispatched top US diplomat John Kerry for talks with regional leaders.
Obama spoke by telephone with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express his concern after more than 100 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in one day.
Obama, who also condemned attacks by Hamas on Israel, "raised serious concern about the growing number of casualties, including increasing Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza and the loss of Israeli soldiers," the White House said in a statement.
"The president underscored that the United States will work closely with Israel and regional partners on implementing an immediate ceasefire, and stressed the need to protect civilians -- in Gaza and in Israel."
During their second call in three days about the escalating situation in Gaza, Obama and Netanyahu "discussed Israel's ongoing military operation," including "the loss of Israeli soldiers," the White House added.
It said Obama "reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself."
The two leaders spoke after Kerry did the rounds on US television talk shows, with Netanyahu also appearing on two of the programs.
Kerry will travel to Cairo on Monday, where he will meet with senior officials from Egypt and other countries about the struggle in Gaza, the State Department said.
The White House said Kerry will seek "an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement" and stressed the need to protect civilian life both "in Gaza and in Israel."
According to the State Department, Kerry is standing behind Egypt's initiative to back those efforts.
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