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Israel launches ground operation in Gaza Strip

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel has launched a ground offensive in Gaza.

The army says the objective is to strike a “significant blow to Hamas’ terror infrastructure.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says 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.

Palestinian officials say an Israeli airstrike targeting people outside a mosque has shattered windows in a nearby care center for the disabled and elderly.

The head of the rehabilitation center says four staff members were hurt and power went off in the building after the attack. The center in the Gaza Strip has 17 patients, some on respirators or unable to walk.

The Israeli military has repeatedly warned the center to evacuate patients ahead of impending strikes, saying the area near the Israeli border is being used by Hamas to launch rockets.

The center’s director has refused, saying he can’t move the patients safely.