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Israel PM says expansion of Gaza assault possible

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli troops pushed deeper into Gaza today 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.

The assault opens a new, potentially extended and bloodier stage in the conflict following a 10-day Israeli campaign of more than 2,000 airstrikes against Gaza that had failed to halt militants rocket fire on Israeli cities. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he told his military to prepare for a possible “significant” expansion of the operation.

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