At least 110 people were killed on Thursday alone in Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, as the Palestinian death toll from 23 days of unrelenting Israeli attacks soared to 1,360.

Israel says 56 of its soldiers have been killed.

"Obviously, no one likes to see the suffering and loss of life that has occurred," Harper said in televised remarks on Wednesday.

Canada's conservative government has long supported the Jewish state and stressed its recognition of Israel's right to defend itself.

Last week, hundreds of academics, lawyers, community activists and others criticised the government for its support of Israel in the conflict, a position they said in an open letter "discredits Canada."

At least 17 people were killed earlier in an Israeli strike on a packed Gaza market, just hours after Israeli tank shells slammed into a UN school sheltering homeless Gazans, killing 16.

The strikes triggered a furious response from the United Nations, United States, France and other countries.

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