GAZA CITY: Israel pressed a Gaza ground assault Friday, sending the Palestinian death toll soaring to 292 as UN chief Ban Ki-moon headed to the region to bolster efforts to clinch a truce.
The new peace effort came as eight members of a single family were killed in Israeli tank fire in northern Gaza, after Israel warned it was poised to broaden its ground operations.
Earlier, US President Barack Obama said he had telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to voice concerns about the crisis and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas met foreign leaders for talks.
In the face of Israel’s land, sea and air offensive, the Islamist movement Hamas remained defiant and warned the Jewish state it would “drown in the swamp of Gaza.”
The UN said Friday that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would fly to the region Saturday in a bid to end the violence.
“The secretary general is prepared to do his part. He will leave for the region tomorrow to express solidarity with the Israelis and Palestinians,” under secretary general for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman told emergency talks at the Security Council.