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At Least 8 Palestinians, Israeli Soldier Killed in Gaza

Israel's military says ground troops backed by helicopter gunships have killed at least eight Palestinians in a major operation in northern Gaza.

An Israeli soldier was also killed Wednesday in the operation, which was one of the largest military operations in Israel's four-month incursion in Gaza.

Israeli troops entered the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun early Wednesday and exchanged fire with Palestinian militants. The Israeli troops were demolishing structures that militants allegedly used to launch rockets into Israel.

Palestinian officials say at least 40 people were wounded in Wednesday's operation, mostly gunmen but also several civilians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned what he called an Israeli "massacre" in Gaza, and urged the international community to stop the offensive, which began after militants kidnapped an Israeli soldier in June in a cross-border raid.

Israeli Cabinet ministers responsible for defense and security met Wednesday and decided against expanding the offensive into other parts of the Gaza Strip.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.