- By Rushdi Abu Alouf in Gaza and Antoinette Radford in London
- BBC News
A pre-dawn Israeli air strike on a residential apartment in the Gaza Strip killed a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine and another person.
A fighter jet attacked an apartment on the fifth floor of a building in the residential town of Hamad, near Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip.
On Wednesday, militants in Gaza fired more than 460 rockets at Israel.
The Israeli army has bombed more than 130 militant targets in Gaza, in the heaviest fighting in nine months.
Palestinian medical sources estimate that the death toll from the fighting this week has reached at least 24, including three other leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
A number of people were injured in Israel’s attack on shelters when rockets were fired from Gaza.
The military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement confirmed the killing of its missile unit commander, Ali Hassan Ghali, also known as Abu Muhammad, in the Thursday morning attack.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement is the second largest armed group in Gaza after Hamas, and has vowed to avenge the deaths of the Palestinians.
And on Wednesday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the Israeli campaign is not over yet.
“We dealt the Islamic Jihad the greatest blow it has ever dealt,” he said, referring to the killing of three Islamic Jihad leaders on Tuesday.
Hours before Netanyahu’s speech, Egyptian media reported that Egypt had brokered a ceasefire, but there was no immediate confirmation from either side.
An umbrella organization representing the armed factions in Gaza had warned earlier that “if Israel increases its aggression, it will wait for dark days.”
The air strikes this week were the deadliest since three days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad last August, when 49 Palestinians were killed in Gaza.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement has been responsible for many rocket attacks against Israel in recent years and has vowed to destroy Israel.
There was a serious escalation last week as Islamic Jihad and other groups fired more than 100 rockets into Israel in two days, following the killing of a Palestinian hunger striker in an Israeli prison. The Israeli army responded by launching air strikes against sites it said were linked to Hamas.
Tensions remained high in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday after Israeli raids.
Two Palestinians were killed in the town of Qabatiya by Israeli forces, who said the two opened fire on them. An Israeli soldier was seriously wounded in a separate clash with armed Palestinians in Tubas.