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STORY: Israel stepped up its ground offensive in Gaza early on Friday (July 18) pounding targets with artillery fire and using tanks and infantry to battle Hamas fighters.
Palestinian health officials said 23 Palestinians had been killed in the ground offensive, while Israel said one of its soldiers had been killed in fighting.
Israel signalled the invasion would be limited in scope - targeting tunnels dug by gunmen - and said it was not intended to topple Hamas, the Gaza Strip's dominant Islamist group.
Residents in several areas of the densely populated strip of 1.8 million Palestinians said they saw small numbers of Israeli tanks that had crossed the border from Israel.
An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed reports that one soldier had been killed and several wounded in fighting which Israeli media said was concentrated in several areas in the north and south of the territory.
The soldier was Israel's second f