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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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North Gaza attacked as rocket launch site 'hit'

The Israeli force has attacked a site in northern Gaza used to launch long-range rockets, Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said. Militants opened fire, wounding four commandos, but the launch site was hit.

Israeli soldiers from the Nahal Infantry Brigade walk across a field near central Gaza Strip Credit: Reuters

Lt. Col. Lerner told Reuters the forces had "completed their mission" and that the results of the raid "would be the first published ground activity" by naval troops in Gaza, in an offensive that Palestinian officials said has killed more than 149 Palestinians, many of them civilians.

Lerner said Israel would drop leaflets in northern Gaza's Beit Lahiya to urge thousands of residents to evacuate ahead of planned strikes there.

Read: Britain 'on standby' to help end Gaza crisis

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