A Palestinian man holds his daughters, Shada and Lama al-Ejla, who were injured in an Israeli tank attack, as he leaves al-Shifa hospital on July 18, 2014 in Gaza City. AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS
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Israel warned Friday it could broaden a Gaza ground assault aimed at smashing Hamas' network of cross-border tunnels, as it intensified attacks that have killed 274 Palestinians.Diplomats stepped up efforts to halt 11 days of bloodshed in and around the battered Gaza Strip while Pope Francis demanded an immediate cease-fire in a phone call with Israeli President Shimon Peres and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas.As Gaza residents spoke of a night of terror, with fierce gun battles in the south and all-night shelling in the north, Netanyahu warned the operation could yet be widened, amid growing international calls to avoid harm to civilians.The ground operation, which began in the Gaza periphery at around 2000 GMT Thursday, sent thousands of people fleeing west to escape the fighting along the Gaza border, a U.N. official told AFP.Gaza was also struggling with a 70 percent power outage after electricity lines from Israel were damaged, officials said.Israel pulled out all of its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005, but within a year it became the de facto seat of Hamas after it won a landslide victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections.
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