The United Nations Security Council will hold a special meeting on Saturday on the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians, the U.N. press office said.
The meeting was set for 7 p.m. EST (2400 GMT).
Israel launched a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, sending tanks and infantry into battle with Hamas fighters who have defied eight days of deadly air strikes with salvos of rocket fire into Israeli towns.
UPDATE: More from the Associated Press:
[Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon] said in a statement that he was “deeply concerned over the serious further escalation” of violence in Gaza. The statement said Ban had spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “and conveyed his extreme concern and disappointment” at the invasion. …
Ban continued to urge key world leaders to intensify efforts to achieve an immediate Israeli-Hamas cease-fire that includes international monitors to enforce a truce and possibly to protect Palestinian civilians.
On a personal note: I grew up in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war. My mother is Jewish American, my father was Christian Lebanese. I lived through the kind of terrible strife that is all too common in the Mideast and I recognize the intricacy (and intractability) of the situation there.
The wide disparity of views in the blogosphere demonstrates how difficult it is to find moral clarity when bombs start falling. But one thing is indisputable: civilians on all sides always bear the brunt of these flare-ups.
After witnessing so many of these bloody paroxysms I hope and pray that I live to see an end to the seemingly endless cycle of Mideast violence.