Gaza conflict bloodier than 2008-09 as deaths hit 1,442

8,200 have been wounded during the 24-day-old Gaza attacks

Gaza City, Palestinian Territories: The toll of Palestinian dead in Israel's 24-day-old Gaza offensive reached 1,442 on Thursday, surpassing the previous record reached during a three-week campaign over New Year in 2009.

Gaza emergency services said at least 44 people died in Israeli strikes on Thursday and 13 more succumbed to wounds sustained previously.

Another 8,200 have been wounded during the current offensive.

The new death toll came as US Secretary of State John Kerry announced a 72-hour ceasefire and said Israelis and Palestinians would enter talks in Cairo to end the bloodshed.

Read: US Secretary of State John Kerry announces 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza

"This ceasefire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence," Kerry said during a visit to New Delhi.

During Israel's Operation Cast Lead, which began just after Christmas 2008, troops swept into the narrow coastal territory of Gaza with the declared aim of stamping out militant rocket fire.

The confrontation killed 1,440 Palestinians and injured 5,300, according to Palestinian medical sources and associations.

Fifty-six Israeli soldiers have died so far in the current operation Protective Edge, compared to 10 in the previous round.

The current offensive began with an intensive air campaign on July 8 and expanded when Israel sent ground troops into the Gaza periphery on July 17.

Eleven people were killed in a single strike Thursday night on a house in Nusseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

Seven people were killed in two separate raids on the southern city of Khan Yunis, including a woman, while two more people died in a strike on Deir al-Balah in central Gaza.

Another two people, including a woman, were killed in two separate incidents in the southern city of Rafah.

In a separate incident, 15 Palestinians sheltering in a UN school in Jabaliya refugee camp in the north were injured in an air strike on a neighbouring mosque. Two were in a serious condition.

The raid came a day after two tank shells slammed into the school, killing 16 people in an attack denounced as "reprehensible" by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Figures released on Wednesday by the UN humanitarian agency OCHA said 245,000 Palestinians had been internally displaced by the fighting, with the UN agency for refugees giving shelter to almost 220,000 of them in 86 of its facilities.

( Source : AFP )
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