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Gaza official says Palestinian death toll tops 300 as Israeli offensive enters 12th day

  • 8ffd461d0a83461c5a0f6a7067008959.jpg

    Israeli forces' flares light up the night sky in the northern Gaza Strip, early Saturday, July 19, 2014. Israeli troops pushed deeper into Gaza on Friday to destroy rocket launching sites and tunnels, firing volleys of tank shells and clashing with Palestinian fighters in a high-stakes ground offensive meant to weaken the enclave's Hamas rulers. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) (The Associated Press)

  • 960b967a0a26441c5a0f6a7067005fba.jpg

    In this image made with a long exposure, the sky and the city is lit by Israeli forces' flares in the northern Gaza Strip, Friday, July 18, 2014. Israeli troops pushed deeper into Gaza on Friday to destroy rocket launching sites and tunnels, firing volleys of tank shells and clashing with Palestinian fighters in a high-stakes ground offensive meant to weaken the enclave's Hamas rulers. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) (The Associated Press)

A Gaza health official says the death toll from Israel's 12-day offensive against Hamas militants has topped 300.

Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said Saturday that overnight airstrikes killed nine people. The Israeli military says three soldiers were wounded, one seriously, in the second night of Israel's ground offensive in Gaza.

Israel launched a ground operation late Thursday after becoming increasingly exasperated with unrelenting rocket fire from Gaza, especially following Hamas' rejection of an Egyptian cease-fire plan earlier this week.

Israeli officials say the offensive is aimed at destroying Hamas tunnels dug into Israel and that it could last up to two weeks.

Israel's military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz visited troops on the Gaza border early Saturday and said "a strategic national patience is necessary" to complete the operation.