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Israeli soldier killed in Gaza, Palestinian death toll rises 246

Israeli soldier killed in Gaza, Palestinian death toll rises 246
The Israeli soldier was apparently killed by light firearms and the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) is currently investigating whether he was shot by other Israeli soldiers, Xinhua reported citing Ha'aretz daily. 

Two other soldiers were wounded in the incident. This is the first Israeli military casualty in the 11-day operation in the Strip.

In another incident in the Gaza Strip on Thursday night, three Israeli soldiers were injured when they were hit by mortar and light fire.

There have been reports by Palestinians of heavy artillery fire from the IDF throughout the Gaza Strip border, and a military official told the Ha'aretz daily there were some exchanges of fire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants. 

According to the IDF, more than 14 Palestinian militants were killed overnight in Israeli Air Force raids.

"The incursion was massive and was accompanied by artillery fire at all times," an IDF official told the daily. 

"The resistance was minor and our forces reached their destination as planned," the official said, adding the IDF was acting in different regions throughout the Gaza Strip.

On Thursday night, large IDF forces entered the Gaza Strip, after efforts to reach a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas did not follow through. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that the goal of the operation was to deal with the terror tunnels in Gaza.

In addition to the ground operation, the Israeli Air Force continued to strike more than 100 targets in the Gaza Strip overnight. Twenty of the targets were missile launchers and nine were terror tunnels, according to the IDF spokespersons unit.

On Friday morning, sirens were heard throughout the southern Israeli communities, including Ashdod, Be'er Sheva, Dimona and Ashkelon. No injuries or damage was reported. Since the incursion began late Thursday about 20 rockets have been launched at Israel.

According to Gaza health officials, the toll has touched 246 while 1,850 others have been injured, most of the victims being civilians. 

Health ministry officials in Gaza told Xinhua that two teenagers were killed by Israeli artillery fire in the northern Gaza Strip city of Biet Hanoun.

A five-month-old infant was killed and his mother injured when an Israeli warplane destroyed their house in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, medics said.

According to the same sources, a man was also killed in the same area.

Two young men were killed by artillery shelling in Gaza-Israel border areas.

On July 8, Israel started an all-out aerial operation, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, to stop rocket fire from Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday ordered a ground operation in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu's decision came after Egyptian and international efforts to reach a permanent ceasefire failed. Both sides had observed a five-hour ceasefire to allow in humanitarian aid to the coastal enclave.

Hamas has warned that Israel would pay a heavy price for its ground offensive in Gaza. 
IANS

IANS

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