Gaza toll rises as Israel launches invasion

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“At least 20 people killed overnight after ground invasion launched, with air raids continuing throughout the enclave.”

At least 19 Palestinians have been killed overnight in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, hours after Israel launched a ground invasion on the 11th day of its offensive in the enclave.

Overnight bombing was reported throughout the strip on Friday, while the Israeli army announced that a soldier had been killed, and two others were wounded, in operations inside Gaza.

Israeli troops had moved several kilometres into the strip in operations the army said were targeting tunnels used by Hamas, the group which controls Gaza, but the incursions so far appeared limited.

Gaza City resident Ebaa Rezeq told Al Jazeera that while Israeli soldiers remained near the buffer zone, air raids and shelling were continuing to terrify civilians.

In one of the air raids, a building housing local media offices in Gaza City was struck by three bombs. Israel maintains that the offensive is to destabilise Hamas and “demilitarise” Gaza.

Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston, reporting from Gaza, said that the attack was “just a small example of what’s been happening here across Gaza Strip all night”.

Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker, also in Gaza, said Israeli troops were targeting the tunnels which Palestinian fighters were using.

“Hamas has managed to set up a tunnel – the Gaza under Gaza – which is a new thing that didn’t exist in the last conflict”.

On Thursday morning, a group of gunmen had tried to enter southern Israel through a tunnel from Gaza. The army said eight of the 13 attackers were killed. The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said it carried out the operation.

At least 259 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge”.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was expected to make a statement about the invasion at 8am GMT on Friday.

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