Gaza toll reaches 342 as UN chief heads to region

* Israeli air strikes kill 25 more people * Some 2,250 wounded so far * 47,000 Gazans seek sanctuary in UNRWA shelters

GAZA CITY: Israeli air strikes killed 20 people in Gaza Saturday, taking the death toll to more than 300, as UN chief Ban Ki-moon headed to the region to bolster truce efforts.The new peace push came as Israel stood poised to intensify a ground operation inside the besieged Palestinian territory aimed at stemming rocket fire by militants on day 12 of its bloodiest conflict since 2009.The United States urged its Israeli ally to do more to limit the high civilian death toll from the operation while supporting the Jewish state’s right to defend itself.President Barack Obama said Washington was “deeply concerned about the risks of further escalation and the loss of more innocent life.”There have been two Israeli deaths so far, one a civilian and one a soldier killed by friendly fire.An early morning air strike outside a mosque in the southern city of Khan Yunis killed seven people on Saturday, including a woman, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.Later raids killed another 13, bringing the death toll so far to 342 Palestinians and two Israelis. Some 2,250 Palestinians and several Israelis have been wounded.The UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA has opened 34 of its schools to shelter those fleeing their homes. It said there were 47,000 Gazans seeking sanctuary so far. 

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Aaj Kal