Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has according to various media reports vowed to continue “massive strikes” in response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip as a deadly escalation entered a second day, sparking fears of wider violence.
Gaza authorities reported six Palestinians killed, including at least two militants, by Israeli strikes in the latest round of fighting that began Saturday as militants fired hundreds of rockets into Israel.
But Israel disputed their account of the deaths of a pregnant mother and her baby, blaming errant Hamas fire.
One 58-year-old Israeli man was killed overnight by a rocket strike on the city of Ashkelon near the Gaza border, Israeli police and medics said.
“I instructed the (military) this morning to continue its massive strikes on terror elements in the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.
He said he had also ordered “tanks, artillery and infantry forces” to reinforce troops already deployed near Gaza.
The flare-up came as Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the blockaded enclave, sought further concessions from Israel under a fragile months-old ceasefire.
Israel said its strikes were in response to Hamas and Islamic Jihad firing 450 rockets or mortars across the border since Saturday, with Israeli air defences intercepting more than 150.
In addition to the Israeli man killed, an 80-year-old woman was seriously injured in a rocket strike on the Israeli city of Kiryat Gat, police and medics said.