"On Thursday night, large IDF forces entered the Gaza Strip, after efforts to reach a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas did not follow through. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that the goal of the operation was to deal with the terror tunnels in Gaza."
Ramallah/Jerusalem, July 18 - At least 27 Palestinians have been killed since late Thursday night when Israel started its ground operation in Gaza taking the toll in 11 days of fighting to over 260, Xinhua reported Friday.

Palestinian health officials said 27 Palestinians have been killed since Israel started its ground operation late Thursday night, including three children, who were killed in shelling on a home in Northern Gaza.

An Israeli soldier was apparently killed by light firearms and the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) is currently investigating whether he was shot by other Israeli soldiers, Ha'aretz daily reported.

Two other soldiers were wounded in the incident. This is the first Israeli military casualty in the 11-day operation in the Strip.

Shortly after the humanitarian ceasefire window proposed by the UN expired at 3 p.m. Thursday, the Islamic Hamas movement and Israel resumed the conflict.

Late Thursday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli army to carry out a limited ground operation, targeting tunnels dug by Hamas gunmen.

Meanwhile, Hamas said Israel's decision to start a ground operation in Gaza was an irresponsible and dangerous step.

The Israeli army will pay a heavy price for such a step, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a press statement, adding Hamas was well prepared for the ground confrontation.

On July 8, Israel started an all-out military operation dubbed Operation Protective Edge to stop rocket fire from Gaza.

The operation has so far claimed the lives of over 260 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and injured more than 1,700 others.

On Thursday night, large IDF forces entered the Gaza Strip, after efforts to reach a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas did not follow through. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that the goal of the operation was to deal with the terror tunnels in Gaza.

In addition to the ground operation, the Israeli Air Force continued to strike more than 100 targets in the Gaza Strip overnight. Twenty of the targets were missile launchers and nine were terror tunnels, according to the IDF spokespersons unit.


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