Gaza official: Palestinian death toll tops 300

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — 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.

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