Israel blitzed Gaza with air and ground fire as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed to wage a “war” to stop rocket attacks on the Jewish state. The escalation of violence prompted Palestinian leaders to warn that renewed peace talks were at stake. A strike on Thursday night targeted a car in the northern Gaza Strip that killed a militant and his wife.
Earlier in the day a vehicle carrying members of Islamic Jihad was also attacked.
However, the blast also hit a donkey cart travelling behind the car, killing a woman and her child passenger. In all, Israel launched three air strikes into the Hamas-run territory, with nine reported fatalities.
Meanwhile, as many as 100 rockets have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel in the past two days following the killing of 18 Palestinians in heavy fighting.
The rocket and mortar attacks caused no serious injuries but further traumatized residents.
In another move Israel closed all border crossings in an out of the impoverished Gaza Strip. An Israeli official said the crossing points would be closed for several days.