Israel focused its attacks on southeast of Gaza, with residents fleeing areas which came under bombardment. The latest casualties include a family of six, including two young children, who were killed in an Israeli air strike in the south of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces destroyed at least 475 houses and 2,644 have been partially damaged. Some 46 schools, 56 mosques and seven hospitals had also suffered varying degrees of destruction, Palestinian officials said.

A total of 720 Palestinians - the vast majority of them civilians - have been killed in Israel's 17-day campaign in Gaza, they said. Thirty two Israeli soldiers and two civilians have also died.

Ban Ki-moon outraged at weapons found in UN school in Gaza

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his outrage over rockets found in a UN-administered school in Gaza, calling for a full review of the incident which he said could turn schools into "potential military targets" and endanger lives of innocent children.
Rockets, found in a United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) school in Gaza subsequently went missing.

The Secretary-General is "alarmed to hear that rockets were placed in an UNRWA school in Gaza and that subsequently these have gone missing. He expresses his outrage, and regret, at the placing of weapons in UN-administered school," a statement issued by his spokesperson said.
Ban has directed the UN Department of Safety and Security (DSS) and the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) to immediately develop and implement an effective security plan for the safe and secure handling of any weapons discovered in UN premises. He also directed UNMAS to immediately deploy personnel with expertise to deal with this situation.

Obama calls Kerry, discusses Gaza ceasefire efforts

US President Barack Obama called his Secretary of State John Kerry, who flew into Tel Aviv from Cairo despite warnings over airline safety, to take stock of the efforts to halt the bitter fighting between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Obama, during his call aboard Air Force One on Wednesday, asked about the developments to achieve an immediate cessation of hostilities which has led to the deaths of nearly 700 Palestinians and 32 Israeli soldiers, the White House said.

Over the last few days, Kerry has been engaged with the Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians, Europeans, UN, the Arab League, and others to achieve an end to the violence and build a process that can create a sustainable path forward, White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry has been meeting both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to try to help negotiate a truce.

Speaking after meeting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is also in the region, Kerry said, "We have certainly made some steps forward, but there is still work to be done."

As the death toll mounted, UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday ordered a probe into Israel's offensive on Gaza. India along with Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa voted in favour of the Palestinian-drafted resolution on "Ensuring Respect for international law in The Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jersusalem".

Israel's close ally US was the only one of 47 member states to oppose the probe supported by 29 countries. Describing UNHCR as a "kangaroo court", Israel slammed the move as a "travesty".

"This investigation by a kangaroo court is a foregone conclusion," the Israeli Prime Minister's Office said.

Taking a dig at the UNHCR decision, Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman labeled the UN body as the "council for the rights of terrorists".

Prior to the vote, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned that Israel could be committing war crimes in Gaza.

As both sides refused to back down, many international airlines kept its flight to Israel suspended even as American aviation authority lifted its ban on US flights to Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters that US opposed the UNHRC resolution on Gaza, saying that it was "the latest in a series of biased, anti-Israel actions at the Human Rights Council."

"We strongly oppose the creation of this kind of mechanism that you spoke about because it is one-sided. No one's looking here at Hamas rockets, no one proposed looking at anything else other than Israel in this case, and again, we oppose it as one-sided."

Three US Senators -- Lindsey Graham, Charles E Schumer and Ben Cardin -- have wrote to Obama demanding that any ceasefire agreement should create a situation in which Israeli citizens no longer face the threat of brazen terrorist attacks.

"Israeli citizens have faced over 1800 rocket launches from Hamas since June. While Iron Dome has saved countless lives, over five million Israelis live in fear of incoming rockets fired indiscriminately from Gaza.

"Twenty-eight tunnels have been discovered by the IDF since the ground operation in Gaza began. Israel has an absolute right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel," the letter said.

"Any effort to broker a ceasefire agreement that does not eliminate those threats cannot be sustained in the long run and will leave Israel vulnerable to future attacks," the Senators wrote.

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