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UNICEF: 300 Children Killed in Gaza


The head of the United Nations children's agency says 300 children have been killed during Israel's campaign in the Gaza Strip.

UNICEF director, Ann Venemen, says more than 1,500 other children have been wounded, casualties she calls "tragic" and "unacceptable."

Separately, Palestinian medics say more than 1,000 people have been killed during the 19-day offensive.

Israel has tightly controlled access to the Palestinian territory, so the numbers cannot be independently verified. But U.N. officials have said previous estimates have been generally credible. Thirteen Israelis have died in the conflict.

In Jerusalem Wednesday, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross said the situation in Gaza is shocking. Jakob Kellengerger visited the densely-populated territory Tuesday, as well as the Israeli town of Sderot, which has been repeatedly hit by Hamas rockets. He called on both sides to differentiate between military targets and civilians.

Israeli ground forces exchanged heavy fire with Hamas militants in Gaza City Wednesday, while Hamas fired several rockets into southern Israel.

There were no reports of injuries on the Israeli side. Israel says it will not end its campaign until the attacks stop.

A reporter for VOA in Gaza says aircraft bombed a cemetery and the central park today in the Palestinian territory's largest city.

Police say three rockets fired from Lebanon into northern Israel today landed outside the town of Kiryat Shmona. There were no reports of casualties, and there has been no claim of responsibility.

Officials say Israel fired shells into Lebanon in response.

The incident follows a similar rocket attack last Thursday, blamed on small Palestinian militant groups in Lebanon.

Israel said today that an Iranian ship carrying 2,000 tons of aid to Gaza was turned back Tuesday because it violated a general maritime blockade of the territory, not because of the ships point of origin.

Iran, which does not recognize Israel, has condemned its offensive in Gaza.

And international activists left Cyprus Wednesday in another bid to bring aid to the territory. An attempt earlier this week was canceled because of technical problems on board. Last month, another effort ended when a ship with the Free Gaza group collided with an Israeli naval vessel.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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