Israel launches ground offensive in Gaza as air strikes continue

Israel has launched a ground offensive in Gaza with residents reporting heavy shelling in the area.

Palestinian health officials say 27 Palestinians, including a baby, two children and a 70-year-old woman, have been killed since Israel sent ground forces into the densely-populated strip of 1.8 million Palestinians.

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Gaza death toll reaches 44, Palestinian officials claim

An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod. Credit: Reuters

Israeli air strikes have hit Gaza every few minutes today, while militants kept up rocket fire at Israel's heartland in intensifying warfare that Palestinian officials claim has killed at least 44 people in the Hamas-dominated enclave.

Missiles from Israel's Iron Dome defence system shot into the sky to intercept rockets launched, for the second straight day, at Tel Aviv, the country's commercial capital.

No Israeli fatalities or serious injuries were reported and Israeli news reports hailed as heroes the military crews of the Iron Dome batteries, which are made in Israel and partly funded by the United States.

The Israeli military said it had bombarded 550 Hamas sites, including 60 rocket launchers and 11 homes of senior Hamas members. It described those dwellings as command centres.

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