The UN Security Council has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza Strip as the number of Palestinians killed during Israel’s military operation passes 500.
It comes as US Secretary of State John Kerry heads to Cairo for talks on the crisis amid a mounting death toll.
Over 500 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed since the Israeli offensive began two weeks ago, Gaza’s health ministry says.
Twenty Israelis – 18 of them soldiers – have died, Israel says, as it seeks to end rocket fire on the country.
On Sunday, Gaza saw its deadliest day since the start of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, with 13 Israeli soldiers and more than 100 Palestinians killed.
Israel says it has killed at least 120 militants since the ground offensive began on Thursday night.
Sunday’s late-night UN Security Council session was convened at the request of Jordan, which is understood to have proposed a strongly worded draft resolution for consideration.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke out on the situation, describing Israel’s operation in Shejaiya as “an atrocious action”.
However, the 15-member council instead issued a statement to the press, with Rwanda’s UN ambassador calling for “an immediate cessation of hostilities”.
Eugene Gasana said members voiced alarm at the escalation of violence during a “sobering session”.
More than 60 Palestinians alone were killed during heavy shelling in Shejaiya, in what Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called “a massacre”.
He called for urgent talks, saying the “situation is intolerable” in Gaza and describing the Israeli attacks as “crimes against humanity.”
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue operations “as much as we need to” despite the number of Israeli soldiers killed rising to 18 at the weekend.
Two of the soldiers killed were American citizens, US state department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
Sunday’s death toll for Israel’s military is higher than that sustained during the entire three-week duration of Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, the last time Israel sent troops into Gaza.
Hamas said on Sunday evening that it had captured a member of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), prompting celebrations on the streets of Gaza and West Bank.
However Israel’s UN ambassador Ron Prosor denied the claim, saying “those rumors are untrue”.
The UN says 83,695 people have now been displaced in Gaza and that the figure is “rising all the time”.
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