Major clashes between IDF troops and Hamas gunmen were reportedly taking place late Monday evening in the northern Gaza Strip.
The clashes marked the first time the IDF extended its ground operation into the densely populated Gaza urban centers.
Live footage from Al-Jazeera showed numerous explosions and fires in the area where the soldiers were said to be operating. Heavy firepower could be heard, and reports told of dozens of artillery shells, as well as air support which had been concentrated in the area.
Just over an hour earlier, the IAF bombed at least 40 smuggling tunnels along the Philadelphi Corridor on Gaza's southern border with Egypt. There were no immediate reports of casualties in the strikes.
Meanwhile, seven IDF soldiers were wounded Monday afternoon, four moderately and three lightly, in exchanges of fire between Israeli troops and Hamas gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip. The soldiers were evacuated for medical treatment.
In the early hours of Monday morning, five IDF soldiers and an officer were lightly to moderately wounded in the tenth day of Operation Cast Lead.
Overnight Sunday, the IAF attacked more than 30 Gaza targets, including an underground Hamas bunker, weapons caches and sites from where Grad rockets were fired at Ashkelon.
In related news, the IDF announced on Monday that dozens of Hamas operatives have been taken prisoner since the start of the ground offensive, Israel Radio reported.
Details regarding how the gunmen were captured and when were not released.
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