Dozens of Palestinians, including children, suffered from suffocation late Thursday after inhaling "poisonous gases" released by Israeli forces during incursions into the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian health official said. "The victims, who had been taken to hospitals in northern and southern Gaza Strip, had reported inhaling white poisonous gas emanating from shells fired by the Israeli artillery on northern and southern Gaza Strip," Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qodra said in a statement. He called on Gazans to use nylon coats to protect their bodies and also firmly seal their doors and windows with wet pieces of clothing, Anadolu news agency reported. The Israeli military had staged incursions into northern and southern Gaza Strip. A spokesman of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced earlier the start of a ground operation against the blockaded coastal enclave. Thousands of Israeli soldiers backed by tanks invaded the Gaza Strip on Thursday. The first major Israeli ground offensive in Gaza in just over five years was announced despite a blunt warning to Israel against invading Gaza by the leaders of Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas). The Zionist regime began its latest onslaught against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on July 8. The total death toll from the Israeli attacks has topped 265, with some 1,800 injured. According to the United Nations, nearly 80 percent of the victims are civilians.