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Israel says it has sent ground troops to Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israeli forces on Thursday launched a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, the military said.

The operation came after 10 days of intense fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant Hamas, in which Israel hit more than 2,000 targets in Gaza and Hamas launched nearly 1,500 rockets at Israel.

The army said the offensive is meant to strike a "significant blow to Hamas' terror infrastructure."

It did not say how many troops were involved or provide other details.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said he instructed the army to go ahead after Hamas rejected an Egyptian cease-fire plan earlier in the week and after Hamas militants tried to infiltrate into Israel through a tunnel from Gaza earlier Thursday.

"In light of the despicable and relentless aggression by Hamas and the dangerous infiltration into Israel, Israel is obliged to protect its citizens," the statement said.

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(c) 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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