israel gaza airstrikes
The death toll is of 264 Palestinians since Israel launched Operation Defensive Edge on 8 July, to restore calm in Southern Israel. AFP

At least 23 Palestinians – including 3 children - have been killed since the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) launched its ground invasion into Gaza on Thursday evening.

According to some reports, the children were killed by an Israeli tank shell.

The latest victims bring the total death toll to 264 Palestinians killed since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July, to restore calm in Southern Israel.

An Israeli soldier was killed during the ground operation. According to some reports, the soldier could have been killed by friendly fire.

The Israeli death toll is now two: one soldier and one civilian.

The IDF said in a statement that the ground invasion aims at destroying the tunnels used by members of Palestinian organisation Hamas.

"Following 10 days of Hamas attacks by land, air and sea, and after repeated rejections of offers to de-escalate the situation, the IDF has initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip," it said in a statement.

"It will include close coordination between IDF units including infantry, armoured corps, engineer corps, artillery, and intelligence combined with aerial and naval support."

The operation could also include the use of amphibious vehicles.

After the ground offensive began, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters, "We warn [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu of the dreadful consequences of such a foolish act".

At least 20 rockets were fired at Israel on Friday, an Israeli military spokeswoman said.