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Israel targets Hamas tunnels, weapons

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Flares light up the night sky over Gaza as Israel moves in to take on Hamas militants. (Source: CBS) Flares light up the night sky over Gaza as Israel moves in to take on Hamas militants. (Source: CBS)

GAZA BORDER (CBS) - Thousands of Israeli soldiers backed by tanks continued a ground invasion into Gaza early on Friday escalating a 10-day campaign of heavy air bombardments to try to destroy Hamas' rocket-firing abilities and the tunnels militants use to infiltrate Israel.

Flares lit up the night sky before dawn and the wail of ambulance sirens was heard as thick smoke rose into the air from sites where shells and missiles struck.

Israel launched the offensive late on Thursday after becoming increasingly exasperated with unrelenting rocket fire from Gaza on its cities, especially following Hamas' rejection of an Egyptian cease-fire plan earlier in the week.

Palestinian militants have fired more than 1,500 rockets at Israeli cities since fighting began.

More than 240 Palestinians have already died in the air campaign, including 14 children under the age of 12 killed over the past two days, according to Palestinian health officials. One Israeli has also died.

Gaza health officials said eight Palestinians were killed in the early stage of the ground operation, including a 3-month-old boy who died after a shell hit his family's Bedouin tent in southern Gaza.

Israel last carried out a major ground offensive in Gaza in January of 2009.

During that three-week campaign, some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, including hundreds of civilians. Thirteen Israelis also died.

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