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30 Israeli soldiers wounded during Gaza ground incursion
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Thirty Israeli soldiers were wounded during the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) ongoing ground incursion in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, said an IDF statement sent to Xinhua on Sunday morning.

The IDF operation continued overnight Saturday with large infantry, tank, engineering, artillery and intelligence forces operating throughout the Gaza Strip with the assistance of the Israel Air Force (IAF) and the Israel Navy, said the statement.

During exchanges of fire with Palestinian militants in Gaza, an IDF officer and a soldier were severely wounded, it said, adding that the families of the injured officer and soldier have been notified.

In addition, 28 other IDF soldiers were injured moderately and lightly. The soldiers received initial medical treatment at the scene and were transported to hospital for further treatment.

During the operation, dozens of armed Hamas operatives were hit by the IDF, added the statement.

Meanwhile, IAF planes struck over 45 targets including tunnels, weapons storage facilities, mortar shell launching squads and a number of mortar shell launching areas.

Israel Navy boats assisted the ground forces and attacked a number of targets including the Hamas intelligence headquarters in Gaza City, rocket launching areas, and Hamas marine forces outposts.

The IDF will continue to operate against the Hamas "terror infrastructure" in the Gaza Strip according to plans in order to reduce the rocket fire on southern Israel, said the statement.

As the IDF's Cast Lead operation entered its eighth day, the IDF Saturday evening began its ground incursion into Gaza.

Hours before the ground incursion, the IDF fired artillery shells into Gaza, which was the first artillery fire since the operation started on December 27.

(Xinhua News Agency January 4, 2009)

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