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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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Benjamin Netanyahu: 'We are not eager for war'

Israel's Prime Minister has insisted his country is not "eager for war" with Palestinian militants, but said his government would do what it takes to safeguard citizens' "safety and security".

In a statement this evening, Benjamin Netanyahu said: "Israel is not eager for war, but the security of our citizens is our primary consideration."

Israel claims Hamas is responsible for a number of rocket attacks targeting civilians in Israeli cities.

He laid the blame for any violence at Hamas' door, saying: "Israel targets Hamas terrorists and not innocent civilians. By contrast, Hamas targets Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians."

"Hamas, therefore, bears full responsibility for any harm that comes to Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike."

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