GENEVA - Palestinian civilians in densely populated Gaza have no place to hide from Israel's military offensive and children are paying the heaviest price, the United Nations said. Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip, saying no cease-fire was near as U.S. and U.N. diplomats pursued talks on halting fighting that has claimed more than 600 lives as the conflict entered its third week. "There is literally no safe place for civilians," Jens Laerke, spokesman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told a news briefing in Geneva on Tuesday. Nearly 500 homes have been destroyed by Israeli airstrikes and 100,000 people have sought shelter in schools of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, where they need food, water and mattresses, he said. "This number continues to increase by the hour," UNRWA said in a statement on Tuesday, raising its emergency funding appeal to $115 million from $60 million.
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