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TEL AVIV, Israel - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Israel's military to prepare for a "significant expansion" of the ground operation in the Gaza Strip on Friday. "It is not possible to deal with the tunnels only from the air, so we operate on the ground," he told a special Cabinet meeting. Health officials told NBC News that 27 Palestinians were killed and around 200 wounded after Israel launched a ground offensive on Thursday to destroy tunnels Hamas depends on to resupply and send its fighters into Israel to carry out attacks.

Israeli tanks and gunboats pummeled around 100 targets in Gaza overnight as around 50,000 of soldiers inched into the Palestinian enclave -- which is home to 1.7 million people -- battling Hamas fighters as they went. One Israeli soldier was killed in fighting, and four were wounded, Israel said. Hamas responded with a barrage of rockets into southern Israel. Some 18,000 Israeli reservists were also called up late Thursday.



- Lawahez Jabari and F. Brinley Bruton