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Israeli military strikes killed at least 20 Palestinians
Israeli military strikes killed at least 20 Palestinians of whom most were civilians in a new surge of violence in Gaza, and three Israeli servicemen were killed in a Hamas ambush.

United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-moon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas both condemned the killing of civilians in the strikes, the most severe since Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip last month that cost the lives of over 120 Gaza residents.

The UN chief's spokeswoman Michele Montas said in a statement that Ban "expressed concern Wednesday over the escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel and condemned the reported civilian casualties among Palestinians, including children, during Israeli military operations," and "calls on Israel to abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law"

Among the Palestinian civilian deaths were at least five children hit by Israeli missiles fired at the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, and one cameraman for international news agency Reuters. About nine other civilians died in the camp.

Reuters said Fadel Shana, 23, was filming Israeli tanks before he was killed, and that footage from his camera shows a tank firing a shell in his direction.

Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Moscow on Wednesday, and is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, after Putin's return from Sardinia.

Speaking from the Russian capital, Abbas condemned "Israeli aggression in Gaza." The Palestinian leader is set to discuss with Russian officials plans to hold a Mideast peace conference in Moscow.

Russia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Thursday voicing concern over the new surge in violence

"We call on both sides to show restraint, and to prevent a large-scale confrontation around Gaza. All efforts must be employed to bring calm to the situation, and a complete ceasefire," the ministry said.

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