Twenty-three Palestinians, Israeli soldier killed in Gaza ground offensive

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Twenty-three Palestinians, Israeli soldier killed in Gaza ground offensive
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C), army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz (R) and Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon give a joint press conference at the Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv on July 28, 2014. Netanyahu said Israelis must be ready for a long military campaign in Gaza, after mortar fire from the enclave killed four people in the Jewish state. AFP PHOTO/GIL COHEN-MAGEN (Photo credit should read GIL COHEN MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 21: Relatives mourn as the dead bodies of the Palestinians who lost their lives during Israeli shelling on Shujaya neighbourhood of Gaza are taken to the morgue after just removed from the wreckage on July 21, 2014. (Photo by Mohammed Talatene/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 21: Relatives mourn as the dead bodies of the Palestinians who lost their lives during Israeli shelling on Shujaya neighbourhood of Gaza are taken to the morgue after just removed from the wreckage on July 21, 2014. (Photo by Mohammed Talatene/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Israeli policemen arrest Israeli Arabs as they protest against the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, in the northern Israeli city of Haifa on July 19, 2014. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI (Photo credit should read AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli policemen arrest Israeli Arabs as they protest against the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, in the northern Israeli city of Haifa on July 19, 2014. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI (Photo credit should read AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Young Palestinian relatives mourn during the funeral of Bashir Abdel Aal, a 20-year-old Hamas militant who was killed by Israeli tank shells minutes before a five-hour truce went into effect, on July 17, 2014 in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. An Israeli official said the Jewish state had agreed a ceasefire with Hamas that will begin at 0300 GMT on July 18, but the Islamist movement refused to confirm the deal. AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB (Photo credit should read SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)
An Israeli Merkava tank rolls near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on July 17, 2014. Fighting between Israel and Hamas resumed in deadly earnest today, after a brief humanitarian ceasefire allowed Gaza residents to restock and hunker down, and as efforts towards a lasting truce intensified. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken from the Israeli Gaza border shows an Israeli army flare illuminating the sky above the Gaza strip on July 17, 2014. Israeli air strikes in Gaza killed four children , medics said, after a humanitarian lull in a 10-day conflict that has killed 237 Palestinians. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
SDEROT, ISRAEL - JULY 17: An Israeli soldier prays after helping fire artillery shells into Gaza on July 17, 2014 near Sderot, Israel. As the Israeli operation 'Protective Edge' enters its tenth day, the body count in Gaza has reach over 200 people. One Israeli has been killed in a Mortar attack. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
A woman runs for cover as sirens are heard in the southern Israeli port city of Ashdod during a rocket attack by Palestinian militants from the neighboring Gaza Strip on July 17, 2014. Fighting between Israel and Hamas resumed in deadly earnest today after a brief humanitarian ceasefire allowed Gaza residents to restock and hunker down, and as efforts towards a lasting truce intensified. AFP PHOTO/DAVID BUIMOVITCH (Photo credit should read DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli extreme right wing activists protest in support of the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip and against a left wing demonstration against the offensive, on July 17, 2014, in Jerusalem. Israeli tank fire in Gaza killed three people today night, raising the Palestinian death toll in 10 days of violence in the coastal enclave to 240, medics said. AFP PHOTO/GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers stand near the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip (background) on July 17, 2014. Israeli air strikes in Gaza killed four children today, medics said, after a humanitarian lull in a 10-day conflict that has killed 237 Palestinians. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
KHAN YUNIS, GAZA - JULY 17: The funeral of Jasmin al-Astal (4), Kavser Hussain al-Astal (70) and Hussain Abdulnaser al-Astar (23) as a result of Israeli air strike in Khan Yunis, Gaza on July 17, 2014. Death toll has reached to 236 and wounded numbers have reached to 1,685 within the 'Operation Protective Edge' in Gaza. (Photo by Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A picture taken from the Israeli Gaza border shows smoke billowing from the Gaza Strip following an Israeli air strike on July 17, 2014. Israeli air strikes in Gaza killed four children , medics said, after a humanitarian lull in a 10-day conflict that has killed 237 Palestinians. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
KHAN YUNIS, GAZA - JULY 17: The funeral of Jasmin al-Astal (4) as a result of Israeli air strike in Khan Yunis, Gaza on July 17, 2014. Death toll has reached to 236 and wounded numbers have reached to 1,685 within the 'Operation Protective Edge' in Gaza. (Photo by Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
An Israeli soldier flashes the 'V' for victory sign from an armoured personnel carrier (APC) at an army deployment area near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on July 17, 2014. Fighting between Israel and Hamas resumed in deadly earnest today, after a brief humanitarian ceasefire allowed Gaza residents to restock and hunker down, and as efforts towards a lasting truce intensified. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
An Israeli Merkava tank rolls near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on July 17, 2014. Fighting between Israel and Hamas resumed in deadly earnest today, after a brief humanitarian ceasefire allowed Gaza residents to restock and hunker down, and as efforts towards a lasting truce intensified. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke from rockets fired from a northern neighborhood of Gaza City are seen after being launched toward Israel on July 17, 2014. Israeli air strikes in Gaza killed four children, medics said, after a humanitarian lull in a 10-day conflict that has killed 237 Palestinians. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX (Photo credit should read THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
The bodies of Jihad and Wassim Shuheiber, aged 8 and 7 respectively, and their 10-year-old cousin Fulla lie in the morgue at al-Shifa hospital, in Gaza City, on July 17, 2014. Israeli air strikes in Gaza killed five children, medics said, hours after a temporary humanitarian ceasefire ended. AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD HAMS (Photo credit should read MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)
An Israeli Merkava tank rolls near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on July 17, 2014. Fighting between Israel and Hamas resumed in deadly earnest today, after a brief humanitarian ceasefire allowed Gaza residents to restock and hunker down, and as efforts towards a lasting truce intensified. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
RAMLA, ISRAEL - JULY 17: Israeli home front unit soldiers work at an emergency call centre on July 17, 2014 in Ramla, Israel.As the Israeli operation 'Protective Edge' enters it's tenth day, the body count in Gaza has reach over 200 people. One Israeli has been killed in a Mortar attack. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 17: Building of Al Yazici family, destroyed in an Israeli airstrike within the 'Operation Protective Edge', killed 230 people and wounded 1685 others in Gaza City, Gaza on July 17, 2014. (Photo by Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 17: A sports shop is destroyed on Israel's airstrike in Gaza city, Gaza on 17 July, 2014. 230 people died and 1865 people wounded at the 10th day of airstrikes. (Photo by Ezz Zanoun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 17: Al Yazici family collect the usable stuff among the ruins of their house destroyed in an Israeli airstrike within the 'Operation Protective Edge', killed 230 people and wounded 1685 others in Gaza City, Gaza on July 17, 2014. (Photo by Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 17: Relatives of Muhammed Bekir, killed in an Israeli airstrike as he was playing on the beach with his friends, mourn after his death in Gaza City, Gaza on July 17, 2014. Death toll has reached to 230 and wounded numbers have reached to 1,685 within the 'Operation Protective Edge' in Gaza. (Photo by Mohammed Talatene/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers watch the smoke trails of 155mm shells fired at targets in the Gaza Strip, at an army deployment area near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, on July 17, 2014. Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement have agreed on a ceasefire that will begin at 0300 GMT on Friday, an Israeli official told AFP. AFP PHOTO /MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken in Beit Hanun in the north of the Gaza Strip on July 17, 2014, shows the Hamas checkpoint located at the entrance of Gaza, about three kilometers from Israel's Erez border crossing, after it was hit by an Israeli air strike. Israel and Hamas agreed to abide by a five-hour humanitarian truce, from 0700 to 1200 GMT, as requested by the United Nations. It brought temporary reprieve from nine days of fighting in which 230 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes, and one Israeli killed by a rocket attack. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX (Photo credit should read THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
An Israeli Merkava tank rolls along the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip following Israeli air strikes in the Palestinian coastal enclave before a five-hour truce went into effect, on July 17, 2014. Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas were observing a temporary five-hour humanitarian ceasefire, both sides said, on the 10th day of conflict between the sides. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
SDEROT, ISRAEL - JULY 17: An Israeli soldier prays after helping fire artillery shells into Gaza on July 17, 2014 near Sderot, Israel. As the Israeli operation 'Protective Edge' enters its tenth day, the body count in Gaza has reach over 200 people. One Israeli has been killed in a Mortar attack. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
A Palestinian mourner carries the body of five-month-old girl Lama al-Satri after she was killed in an Israeli air strike the previous day, during her funeral in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on July 16, 2014. The Israeli army said it has agreed to a UN request to halt its attacks on the Gaza Strip for five hours on July 17 on humanitarian grounds. AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB (Photo credit should read SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)
An Israeli missile hits Palestinian buildings in Gaza City on July 17, 2014. Israel launched a ground operation in Gaza late Thursday on the 10th day of an offensive to stamp out rocket attacks from the Palestinian enclave, the army said. At least 240 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air strikes since July 8, many of them children, medics in Gaza said, with a NGO based in the coastal enclave saying 80 percent of the deaths are civilians. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX (Photo credit should read THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken from the Israeli Gaza border shows an Israeli army flare illuminating the sky above the Gaza strip on July 17, 2014. Israeli air strikes in Gaza killed four children , medics said, after a humanitarian lull in a 10-day conflict that has killed 237 Palestinians. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A Palestinian boy holds damaged pages of a Koran, Islam's holy book, as he inspects a building hit by an Israeli air strike before a five-hour truce went into effect, on July 17, 2014 in Gaza City. Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas were observing a temporary five-hour humanitarian ceasefire, both sides said, on the 10th day of conflict between the sides. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 16: Palestinian firefighters extinguish a fire that broke out after an Israeli air strikes hit a building in Gaza City, Gaza on July 16, 2014. Israeli airstrike killed 213 people and 1530 others wounded in Gaza. (Photo by Mohammed Talatene/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A picture taken from the Israeli Gaza border shows smoke billowing from the Gaza Strip following an Israeli air strike on July 16, 2014. Israel intensified its bombardment of Gaza, killing four children on a beach in an apparent naval salvo and launching deadly air strikes, as regional leaders sought to end the killing. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 16 : Israeli airstrike targeted Gaza kills 4 Palestinian children while they were playing on the beach in Gaza City, Gaza. (Photo by Mohammed Talatene/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
An man reads a prayer at the grave of Israeli Dror Khenin mourn on July 16, 2014, during his funeral in Yehud, east of Tel Aviv, the day after he was killed when a short-range rocket fired by Palestinian militants landed near the border with the Gaza Strip where he was delivering food to the Israeli soldiers. He is the first Israeli civilian killed during Israel's Operation Dove. Israel's campaign, now in its ninth day, has killed 214 Palestinians, with a Gaza-based rights group saying over 80 percent of them were civilians. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI (Photo credit should read AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images)
KHAN YUNIS, GAZA - JULY 16 : (EDITORS NOTE: Image contains graphic content.) A wounded Palestinian kid Muhammed Ahvaj (4) is taken to a hospital after an Israeli airstrike targeted Khan Yunis, Gaza on July 16, 2014. The death toll from Israel's ongoing onslaught on the blockaded Gaza Strip has risen to 214 since July 7, the Palestinian Health Ministry said on July 16, 2014. (Photo by Ezz El-Zanoun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A relatives of four Palestinian boys, all from the Bakr family, mourns over the body of one of the boys at the morgue of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, on July 16, 2014. Four children were killed and several injured at a beach in Gaza City medics said, in Israeli shelling witnessed by AFP journalists. The strikes appeared to be the result of shelling by the Israeli navy against an area with small shacks used by fishermen. The deaths raised the overall toll in nine days of violence in Gaza to 213. AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS (Photo credit should read MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SARA HUSSEIN A person stands by the broken window of the Al-Wafa rehabilitation hospital near Gaza City on July 16, 2014 following an Israeli military strike. At the hospital a handful of doctors and nurses hover over paralysed patients, wondering how to protect them from more air strikes as threatened by Israel. The patients lie mostly inert in beds lined up in the hospital's reception, where staff moved them after an Israeli rocket crashed into the fourth floor. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX (Photo credit should read THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 16: A building of Alashy family is destroyed by an Israeli airstrike within the 'Operation Protective Edge', killed 205 people and wounded 1530 others, in Gaza City, Gaza on July 16, 2014. (Photo by Ezz Zanoun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
JABALIA, GAZA - JULY 24: A woman walks on the debris as Palestinians inspect the destroyed area after Israeli strikes hit the Jabalia refuge camp on July 24, 2014, as the Israel's operation 'Protective Edge' continues on Gaza. (Photo by Ali Hassan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
JABALIA, GAZA - JULY 24: A woman walks as children stand on the debris as Palestinians inspect the destroyed area after Israeli strikes hit the Jabalia refuge camp on July 24, 2014, as the Israel's operation 'Protective Edge' continues on Gaza. (Photo by Ali Hassan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A picture taken from the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip shows buildings following an Israeli air strike east of Gaza City, on July 24, 2014. US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke today to his counterparts in Qatar and Turkey, which support the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as he pressed for a Gaza ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIT LAHIA, GAZA - JULY 24: Injured members of Abuayta family, whose house hit by an Israeli airstrike at Jabalia Camp, are taken to the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia, Gaza on July 24, 2014. Death toll rises to 745, including 182 children, 92 women, 45 elderly people, and injured numbers rises to 4633 within the ongoing 'Operation Protective Edge' on the 17th day in Gaza. (Photo by Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
An Israeli canon fires a 155mm shell toward the Gaza Strip from their position near Israel's border with the Palestinian enclave on July 24, 2014. US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke today to his counterparts in Qatar and Turkey, which support the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as he pressed for a Gaza ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / DAVID BUIMOVITCH (Photo credit should read DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/Getty Images)
ISRAEL/GAZA BORDER, ISRAEL - JULY 24 : (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli soldiers prepare their Tanks in a deployment area on July 24, 2014 on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. ashington's top diplomat said global efforts to end 17 days of bloodshed in Gaza were progressing as the Palestinian death toll rose to 714 and airlines kept flights to Israel suspended over rocket fears. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 24: Palestinians inspect destroyed buildings following Israeli air assaults staged within the scope of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza City, Gaza on July 24, 2014. The Palestinian death toll from Israel's ongoing offensive against the Gaza Strip has risen to 732. (Photo by Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 24: Palestinians inspect destroyed buildings and collect usable stuff following Israeli air assaults staged within the scope of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza City, Gaza on July 24, 2014. The Palestinian death toll from Israel's ongoing offensive against the Gaza Strip has risen to 732. (Photo by Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ISRAEL/GAZA BORDER, ISRAEL - JULY 24 : (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli soldiers patrol next to a Kibutz on July 24, 2014 on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. Washington's top diplomat said global efforts to end 17 days of bloodshed in Gaza were progressing as the Palestinian death toll rose to 714 and airlines kept flights to Israel suspended over rocket fears. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
KHAN YUNIS, GAZA - JULY 24: Palestinians carry the wounded man, hit during the ongoing Israeli strikes on July 24, 2014 in Khan Yunis, Gaza. (Photo by Belal Khaled/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KHAN YUNIS, GAZA - JULY 24: Relatives of Palestinians cry as wounded and killed are taken to Nasser Hospital after the Israeli attacks in Khan Yunis, Gaza on July 24, 2014. Death toll has reached to 771 and wounded numbers have reached to 5000 within the 'Operation Protective Edge' in Gaza. (Photo by Belal Khaled/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Palestinians inspect the wreckage of a car following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, on July 24, 2014. Fifteen Palestinians were killed today when an Israeli shell slammed into a UN shelter where hundreds of civilians had taken refuge, sending the death toll in Gaza soaring to 788 despite world efforts to broker a ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 24: Relatives of Palestinians who injured and killed Israeli attacks hit the schools of UNRWA in Gaza, wait around the Kemal Advan hospital in Gaza City, Gaza on July 24, 2014. Seven United Nations schools in Gaza have been damaged during the past 24 hours, the UN relief agency has said. (Photo by Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 24: Relatives of Palestinians who injured and killed Israeli attacks hit the schools of UNRWA in Gaza, wait around the Kemal Advan hospital in Gaza City, Gaza on July 24, 2014. Seven United Nations schools in Gaza have been damaged during the past 24 hours, the UN relief agency has said. (Photo by Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A picture taken from the southern Israeli Gaza border shows the sun setting over the Gaza strip on July 24, 2014. Fifteen Palestinians were killed today when an Israeli shell slammed into a UN shelter where hundreds of civilians had taken refuge, sending the death toll in Gaza soaring to 788 despite world efforts to broker a ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken from the southern Israeli Gaza border shows a trail of dust as Israeli army Merkava tanks (unseen) and armoured personnel carriers (APC) ( unseen) take postion inside the Gaza Strip on July 24, 2014. Fifteen Palestinians were killed today when an Israeli shell slammed into a UN shelter where hundreds of civilians had taken refuge, sending the death toll in Gaza soaring to 788 despite world efforts to broker a ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 24: The relatives of wait around the hospital after Palestinians who injured Israeli attacks hit the schools of UNRWA in Gaza, are taken to Beit Lahia and Kemal Advan hospitals in Gaza City, Gaza on July 24. Seven United Nations schools in Gaza have been damaged during the past 24 hours, the UN relief agency has said. (Photo by Mohammed Talatene/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Relatives of Daniel Pomerantz, a 20-year-old Israeli soldier from the Golani Brigade who was killed a few days ago in an exchange of fire with Palestinian militants inside the Gaza Strip, mourn during his funeral on July 24, 2014 in Kfar Azar near Tel Aviv. So far, 32 Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians have died in the fighting and at least 718 Palestinians have been killed in the 17 days of bloodshed in Gaza. AFP PHOTO / GIL COHEN-MAGEN (Photo credit should read GIL COHEN MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Two brothers (2nd from R and 1st from L) and Varda (2nd from L), the mother of Daniel Pomerantz, a 20-year-old Israeli soldier from the Golani Brigade who was killed a few days ago in an exchange of fire with Palestinian militants inside the Gaza Strip, mourn during his funeral on July 24, 2014 in Kfar Azar near Tel Aviv. So far, 32 Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians have died in the fighting and at least 718 Palestinians have been killed in the 17 days of bloodshed in Gaza. AFP PHOTO / GIL COHEN-MAGEN (Photo credit should read GIL COHEN MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images)
The three brothers (C) and Varda (R), the mother of Daniel Pomerantz, a 20-year-old Israeli soldier from the Golani Brigade who was killed a few days ago in an exchange of fire with Palestinian militants inside the Gaza Strip, mourn during his funeral on July 24, 2014 in Kfar Azar near Tel Aviv. So far, 32 Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians have died in the fighting and at least 718 Palestinians have been killed in the 17 days of bloodshed in Gaza. AFP PHOTO / GIL COHEN-MAGEN (Photo credit should read GIL COHEN MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Palestinian men grieve over the death of relatives at the morgue of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, on July 24, 2014, after a UN school in the northern Beit Hanun district of the Gaza Strip was hit by an Israeli shell. Fifteen Palestinians were killed when the Israeli shell slammed into the UN-run school where hundreds of civilians had taken refuge, sending the death toll in Gaza soaring to 777 despite world efforts to broker a ceasefire. AFP PHOTO/ MAHMUD HAMS (Photo credit should read MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)
KHAN YUNIS, GAZA - JULY 24: Palestinians flee their houses due to Israeli shelling in Khan Yunis, Gaza, on July 24, 2014. The Palestinian death toll from Israel's devastating military offensive against the Gaza Strip rises to 771 on Thursday according to Palestinian Health Ministry. (Photo by Eyad Al-Baba/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KHAN YUNIS, GAZA - JULY 24: A Palestinian man holding his child arrives Nasir Hospital for a Palestinian man killed in an Israeli attack targeting Khan Yunis, Gaza on July 24, 2014. (Photo by Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 24: Members of Ebu Sakra family cry for their wounded relative in Gaza city, Gaza on 24 July, 2014. (Photo by Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A Palestinian man is arrested by Israeli border police following clashes outside of the Old City of Jerusalem on July 24, 2014 during a demonstration by Palestinians in support of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. Medics reported more than 50 people killed in Gaza, mostly in the south, hiking the overall Palestinian toll to 746 since Israel launched a military operation to halt rocket fire from the besieged territory on July 8. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI (Photo credit should read AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken from the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip shows buildings following an Israeli air strike east of Gaza City, on July 24, 2014. US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke today to his counterparts in Qatar and Turkey, which support the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as he pressed for a Gaza ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
An Israeli Merkava tank is seen at an army deployment area near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2014. US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke today to his counterparts in Qatar and Turkey, which support the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as he pressed for a Gaza ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
An Israeli canon fires a 155mm shell toward the Gaza Strip from their position near Israel's border with the Palestinian enclave on July 24, 2014. US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke today to his counterparts in Qatar and Turkey, which support the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as he pressed for a Gaza ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / DAVID BUIMOVITCH (Photo credit should read DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/Getty Images)
An Israeli army Merkava tank rolls along Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on July 24, 2014. US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke today to his counterparts in Qatar and Turkey, which support the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as he pressed for a Gaza ceasefire. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
ISRAEL/GAZA BORDER, ISRAEL - JULY 24 : (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli soldiers prepare their Tanks in a deployment area on July 24, 2014 on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. ashington's top diplomat said global efforts to end 17 days of bloodshed in Gaza were progressing as the Palestinian death toll rose to 714 and airlines kept flights to Israel suspended over rocket fears. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JULY 24: Palestinians inspect destroyed buildings and collect usable stuff following Israeli air assaults staged within the scope of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza City, Gaza on July 24, 2014. The Palestinian death toll from Israel's ongoing offensive against the Gaza Strip has risen to 732. (Photo by Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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(Reuters) - Israel stepped up its ground offensive in Gaza early on Friday pounding targets with artillery fire and using tanks and infantry to battle Hamas fighters.

Orange flashes illuminated the eastern Gaza Strip as Israeli gunboats off the Mediterranean coast fired shells and tracer bullets, and helicopters fired across the border. Hamas fired rockets back into Israel towards the southern towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon.

Palestinian health officials said 23 Palestinians had been killed since Israel launched its ground offensive against the densely-populated strip of 1.8 million Palestinians on Thursday. Israel said one of its soldiers had been killed in fighting.

A video clip released by the military showed six tanks rolling in through the sand dunes of Gaza, after a soldier opened a border fence, and two long rows of foot soldiers.

Israel Begins Ground Assault In Gaza

"We are using a very high level of fire power and artillery," Israeli military spokesman Brigadier General Motti Almoz said. "A great number of soldiers are in action in the Gaza Strip, soldiers are overtaking their targets, tunnels, Hamas targets," Almoz said, and several "points of friction" with gunmen.

Israel signaled the invasion would be limited in scope - targeting tunnels dug by gunmen - and said it was not intended to topple Hamas, the Gaza Strip's dominant Islamist group.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri responded with defiance, saying, "we warn (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu of the dreadful consequences of such a foolish act".

Live television showed interceptions of rockets by Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system and no casualties were reported.

Almoz said one soldier had been killed and several wounded in fighting Israeli media said was concentrated in several areas in the north and south of the territory.

The soldier was Israel's second fatality in eleven days of fighting which spilled over into a land offensive late on Thursday. A rocket attack killed a civilian two days ago.

In all, 251 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed since the fighting began on July 8, Israel bombarding Gaza while Hamas launched rockets against Israel.

Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said on Twitter Israel had killed 14 Palestinian gunmen in "exchanges of fire throughout Gaza" and destroyed 20 rocket launchers.

Hamas's armed wing said in a statement they had detonated three explosives in northern Gaza and "clashes are ongoing". It also said its fighters had repelled Israeli forces trying to enter another Gaza town, Beit Hanoun, wounding seven soldiers.

Israel began the air and sea offensive in what it called a response to mounting rocket salvos, more than 100 a day, fired by Gaza militants into its cities, sending hundreds of thousands of Israelis dashing to shelters as far north as the Tel Aviv business hub.

At least 20 more rockets were fired at Israel on Friday, a military spokeswoman said.

DEFIANCE, "DREADFUL CONSEQUENCES"

A statement from Netanyahu's office late on Thursday said he had given orders to destroy tunnels that militants use to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks.

The current conflict was largely triggered by the killing of three Israeli teens in the occupied West Bank last month and the death on July 2 of a Palestinian youth in a suspected revenge murder. Israel briefly held its fire on Tuesday after Egypt, which is also Gaza's neighbor, announced a truce plan; but Hamas and other militant groups rejected the proposal, saying it had not addressed their demands.

"The directive for ground action was approved by the security cabinet after Israel agreed to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, whereas Hamas rejected it and continued firing rockets at Israeli cities," the statement from Netanyahu's office said.

TANKS ROLL IN

The fighting has been the worst between Israel and Palestinians in two years. The United Nations Security Council will meet on Friday to discuss the developments.

The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking after the announcement of the ground assault, implored Israel to do more to stop Palestinian civilian deaths.

A statement from the Israeli military said another 18,000 reserve soldiers would be mobilized to join more than 30,000 already called up.

Hamas wants Israel and Egypt, whose military-backed government is at odds with the Islamist movement, to lift border restrictions that have deepened economic hardship in the territory. Hamas is also suffering from a cash crunch, unable to pay its employees in Gaza for months.

Fighting resumed immediately after the end of a five-hour humanitarian truce on Thursday requested by the United Nations to allow Palestinians to stock up on food.

Hamas leaders have talked up their "tunnel campaign" against the Israeli enemy. One publicity video showed Palestinian fighters hauling rockets through a narrow passage to load onto a launcher that appears buried in an orchard. It is then fired remotely after its mechanized cover slides open.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will visit the Middle East on Friday to try to defuse the crisis, and for discussions about putting a European mission on the Gaza-Israel border, a diplomatic source said on Thursday.

Israel last mounted a large-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip during a three-week war in late 2008 and early 2009 that claimed 1,400 Palestinian and 13 Israeli lives.

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Man Suspects His Wife Is Cheating On Him - Then His Daughter Reveals What's Really Going Man Suspects His Wife Is Cheating On Him - Then His Daughter Reveals What's Really Going