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Gaza deathtoll tops 700

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The death toll in the Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip has reached 707 with more than 4,500 people wounded, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra says. A family of six, including two young children, was killed Thursday in an Israeli air strike in the south of the Gaza Strip.

“Six members of the Al-Aftal family, including a five-year-old girl and a boy of three, were killed,” said al-Qudra, bringing the number killed Thursday to 18.

An Israeli airstrike after midnight on a house in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza killed a child and three elderly men.

Witnesses say that the Palestinian coastal territory is fully blacked out due to an earlier strike on the main Gaza power plant, while the Israeli military is intensifying artillery and airstrikes.

Meanwhile, the UN’s humanitarian chief says a ceasefire to stop the violence in Gaza is vital because of the deteriorating situation. Valerie Amos said in an interview in Tokyo on Thursday that the top priority is protecting civilians caught up in the violence. She called it a “terrible, terrible situation.”

Amos is in Tokyo for a U.N.-organized meeting on finding better ways to deliver humanitarian aid to conflict and disaster zones in Asia. She said international funding is not keeping up with the growing needs from crises and disasters and advocated a “step change” in several areas to make relief more effective.

She said one lesson from Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is the need to involve local communities in the response and make the international community a last resort. SAPA




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