Israel and Gaza militants traded more heavy fire Thursday, the third day of the worst escalation of violence in months that has killed 25 people in the blockaded Palestinian enclave.
Air strikes by the Israeli army since Tuesday have killed fighters as well as civilians, including several children, said officials in the crowded coastal territory.
Cairo mediated in efforts toward a truce between Israel and the Islamic Jihad militant group, while France, Germany, Jordan and Egypt called for an end to the violence.
“The bloodletting must end now,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock after hosting her three counterparts for talks in Berlin.
Militants in the Gaza Strip have fired more than 500 rockets at Israel, causing no casualties so far, the Israeli military said.
Of these, 368 rockets made it over the border and 154 were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system, while 110 fell inside Gaza, it said.
Shops in Gaza were shuttered and the streets largely abandoned as Israeli military aircraft circled over the territory where several buildings lay in ruins.
Islamic Jihad confirmed it has lost four military leaders in strikes in recent days, the most recent being Ali Ghali, commander of a rocket launch unit.
Another militant group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said four of its fighters had been killed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a TV address late Wednesday that “we are still in the midst of the campaign” and “fiercely attacking the Gaza Strip”.
“We say to the terrorists and the ones sending them: we see you everywhere, you cannot hide, and we choose the place and the time to hit you.”
In Gaza City’s Al-Rimal district, Mamoun Radi, 48, said: “We hope that the wave of escalation will end, but we support revenge for the martyrs.
“Israel assassinated a leader of (Islamic) Jihad at dawn today because it does not want calm.”
Across southern Israel, sirens wailed intermittently through the night and Thursday morning.