8 Palestinians killed by Israeli tank fire in Gaza

Gaza City - Eight Palestinians, including at least two children, were killed by Israeli tank fire in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday, a spokesperson for the local emergency services said.

A woman was also among the dead in the attack at Khan Yunes, said spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra.

The eight deaths bring the toll on the Palestinian side to 1 450 since the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip began on 8 July.

News of the latest deaths came shortly after both Israel and Hamas agreed to begin a 72-hour ceasefire at 0500 GMT Friday.

The toll of Palestinian dead in Israel's 25-day-old Gaza offensive has now surpassed that of 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.

Thousands more have been wounded during the current offensive.

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

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

Eleven people were killed in a single strike on 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