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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.

Israel launched the operation late Thursday, following a 10-day campaign of more than 2,000 air strikes against Gaza that had failed to halt relentless Hamas rocket fire on Israeli cities.

Israel's first major ground offensive in Gaza in just over five years came as Egyptian cease-fire efforts stalled. Earlier this week, Israel accepted Cairo's offer to halt hostilities, but Hamas refused, demanding that Israel and Egypt first give guarantees to ease the blockade on Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had ordered the military to prepare for a "significant expansion" of the ground offensive.

"It is not possible to deal with tunnels only from the air. It needs to be done also from the ground," he said before a special Cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv. "We chose to begin this operation after the other options were exhausted and with the understanding that without the operation the price we will pay can be very high."

Lawsuit filed in pummeling: A woman seen in a video being pummeled by a California Highway Patrol officer alongside a Los Angeles freeway filed a civil rights lawsuit Thursday. The lawsuit attorney Caree Harper filed in federal court on behalf of Marlene Pinnock names the commissioner of the CHP, the unidentified officer in the July 1 video and other officers as defendants. The now-viral video shows Pinnock, 51, being repeatedly punched as she's straddled by the officer.

Trooper pleads guilty: Connecticut State Trooper Aaron Huntsman has pleaded guilty to charges he stole cash and jewelry from a dying accident victim. The Connecticut Post reported (http://bit.ly/1wzcA6N ) 45-year-old Huntsman entered a guilty plea Wednesday in Bridgepofrt to charges of larceny and tampering with evidence under the Alford Doctrine. That means he does not agree with the state's case, but concedes there is enough evidence to secure his conviction. Prosecutors say Huntsman, a 19-year veteran of the state police, was caught on video from his cruiser's dashboard camera stealing a gold chain and $3,700 from 49-year-old John Scalesse as the motorcyclist lay dying on Sept. 22, 2012.

Feds sending more agents: Federal officials are sending more agents to Chicago to help the police department fight violence after the city experienced a bloody July 4 holiday weekend that left more than a dozen people dead and dozens more injured. The Bureau of Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assigning seven more agents to work in the city, upping the total number of agents to 52, to "bring more resources to Chicago to combat some of the gun violence." Federal authorities have been discussing ways that FBI and other federal agents could help combat gun violence and street gangs -- major reasons why Chicago led the nation in homicides in 2013.

Microsoft to cut 18,000 jobs: Microsoft announced the biggest layoffs in its 39-year history Thursday, outlining plans to cut 18,000 jobs in a move that marked the CEO's sharpest pivot yet away from his predecessor's drive for the company to make its own devices. Although some cuts had been expected ever since Microsoft acquired Nokia's mobile-device unit, the number amounted to 14 percent of the Microsoft workforce -- about twice what analysts had estimated.

Putin denies reports: Russian President Vladimir Putin is denying reports that his government had reached an agreement to reopen the Lourdes electronic eavesdropping base in Cuba, which once monitored a broad range of U.S. communications. "We closed this center in agreement with our Cuban friends. We do not intend to renew its activities," Putin declared in a statement published on a Kremlin Web page. The Moscow newspaper Kommersant on Tuesday quoted unidentified sources as saying that Russia had agreed to reopen the Lourdes base near Havana, unleashing concerns about U.S. relations with both Havana and Moscow.

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