ISRAEL - Tags: CIVIL UNREST MILITARY CONFLICT
An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires towards the Gaza Strip July 21, 2014. The Palestinian death toll in an Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip jumped to more than 500 on Monday, as the United States, alarmed by escalating civilian bloodshed, took a direct role in efforts to secure a ceasefire. Israel's losses also mounted. Following the death of 13 soldiers on Sunday, Israel said seven more troops had died on Monday, including four killed when a group of militants tunnelled across the border from Gaza and fired at their jeep. REUTERS/Nir Elias (ISRAEL - Tags: CIVIL UNREST MILITARY CONFLICT) - RTR3ZKL1 Nir Elias/Reuters
Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the UN chief and the U.S. secretary of state launched a high-level effort to end two weeks of deadly fighting.
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Airstrikes set off huge explosions that turned the night sky over Gaza City orange. The sound of the blasts mixed with the thud of shelling, often just seconds apart, and the predawn call to prayer from mosque loudspeakers.
The unusually intense Israeli strikes came as UN chief Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met in Cairo to launch the highest-level push yet to end two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting that has claimed at least 570 Palestinian and 29 Israeli lives.
The UN has said a majority of the Palestinians killed were civilians, among them dozens of children. In Israel, the army said two more soldiers were killed in clashes with Hamas fighters, bringing the number of troops killed since July 8 to 27. Two Israeli civilians have also been killed.
Early Tuesday, Israeli aircraft hit more than 70 targets in the Gaza Strip, including the home of the late leader of Hamas' military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, five mosques and a football stadium, said Gaza police spokesman Ayman Batniji.
Batniji said tank shells damaged several houses along the eastern border of the territory and that at least 19 fishing boats were burned by Israeli navy shells fired from the Mediterranean.
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