More than two dozen Palestinians killed

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Health officials in the Gaza Strip say 25 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began its ground operation in Gaza late yesterday, including three teenage siblings who died when a tank shell hit their home.

The father of the teens says they were sleeping when the shell struck, and that he had to dig them out from under the rubble.

Israel says it is going to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties. It blames them on Hamas, accusing the militant group of firing from within residential neighborhoods and using civilians as "human shields."

The Israelis pushed deeper into Gaza today, firing volleys of tank shells and clashing with Palestinian fighters. Israel says it's trying to stop rocket attacks and destroy the network of Hamas tunnels into Israel. But some hard-liners in Israel want their military to completely crush Hamas and drive it from power in Gaza.

The streets of Gaza City have been largely deserted today. The sound of steady shelling could be heard across Gaza as Israel continued to strike targets from the air. Buildings shook as missiles hit.

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138-r-17-(Sound of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking in Hebrew, in statement at Cabinet meeting)--This is sound of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying in Hebrew that he's directing the military to prepare for a 'possible significant expansion of the ground operation' in Gaza. COURTESY: Channel 10-Israel ((mandatory on-air credit)) (18 Jul 2014)

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019-c-08-(Aron Heller, AP correspondent)-"threats toward Israel"-AP correspondent Aron Heller reports Israelis are losing patience with attacks coming from Gaza and want more action taken to stop them. (18 Jul 2014)

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APPHOTO HM116: Palestinians inspect the rubble of a building to pick up their usable belongings after it was hit by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City, 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/Hatem Moussa) (18 Jul 2014)

<<APPHOTO HM116 (07/18/14)££

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