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UN Security Council calls for Gaza ceasefire

The UN Security Council urged Israel and Hamas on Saturday to end their hostilities in Gaza, calling on both sides to respect "international humanitarian laws" and stop the loss of life.

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council urged Israel and Hamas on Saturday to end their hostilities in Gaza, calling on both sides to respect "international humanitarian laws" and stop the loss of life.

In a unanimous declaration, the 15-member council called for a de-escalation of the crisis that has claimed well over a hundred lives, and urged a return to the "calm and restitution of the November 2012 ceasefire."

The council expressed "serious concern" over the "protection and welfare of civilians on both sides."

It also called for a return to the negotiating table by Israelis and Palestinians "with the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on the two-state solution."

The council issued its declaration amid news that eight more Palestinians were killed in a series of Israeli raids in the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Those attacks raised to 135 the number of Palestinians that medics said have been killed since hostilities flared.

Gaza officials said nearly 950 people have been wounded in the strikes.

Israel began its bombing, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, on Tuesday in an attempt to halt cross-border rocket fire by militant groups.

Gaza militants, meanwhile, have fired approximately 525 mortar rounds and rockets that struck Israel, but with no loss of life.

Israeli military officials say another 138 rockets have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system.

Israel has authorised the call-up of 40,000 reservists, and is threatening to initiate a ground operation.

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