At least seven Palestinians were reported killed in Gaza City by an Israeli airstrike early Saturday as the worst fighting between Israel and Hamas since 2014 ground on with no quick end in sight, despite efforts by the U.S. and Egypt to broker a ceasefire.
Palestinian media quoted by The Times of Israel reported that children were among the dead, while several other people were trapped in the rubble of a house.
If the death toll is confirmed, it would be the highest number of civilian casualties from a single airstrike in the current conflict, which began Monday.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) did not respond directly to the report of the deadly airstrike, but said in a statement reported by the Times of Israel that it had targeted several rocket launching sites and two Hamas “terror squads.”
“The attacks were carried out through a quick closing of the circle, lethal fire capability and accurate intelligence of the Gaza Division,” they said.
Earlier in the evening, the IDF tweeted dramatic footage of a fireball caused by a rocket fired from Gaza hitting a fuel depot in the Mediterranean port of Ashdod.
“Barrages of rockets are being fired non-stop from Gaza into southern Israel,” the IDF wrote. “Tonight, a rocket hit the city of Ashdod—see the damage for yourself. This won’t go unanswered.”
No injuries were reported from the rocket strike in Ashdod, which was the third in the city across Friday night into Saturday morning. An earlier strike on the port and a direct hit on an apartment building also caused no reported injuries.
Nine Israelis have died during the latest conflict, including a 6-year-old boy and a soldier. Authorities in Gaza have reported that at least 126 people have been killed, including 31 children and 20 women. Israel claims that many of those civilian casualties have been caused by Hamas-launched rockets falling short of their targets.
Officials from Washington and Cairo are in the region trying to coax a halt to the fighting and the United Nations Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting Sunday morning. An Egyptian intelligence official told the Associated Press that Israel has already turned down an Egyptian proposal for a one-year cease-fire that Hamas had accepted.
Hamas has fired some 2,000 rockets toward Israel since Monday, according to the Israeli military.
With Post wires