GAZA, November 18 (RIA Novosti) – At least nine members of the same family were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a house in Gaza on Sunday, a Palestinian medic told RIA Novosti.
“Israeli aviation struck a house in the Sheikh Radwan district – nine people from the same family were killed,” a doctor in Gaza’s main hospital said. “The neighboring house was also damaged and we are continuing to pull injured people out of the rubble.”
Four of the dead were children, the Palestinian Ma'an news agency said. The agency also said 11 people had died in the attack.
The airstrike was on the house of Mohamed Dalou, an official with the Hamas Islamist group that has ruled Gaza since 2007.
The deaths were the largest loss of life since Israel launched its attack on Gaza on October 14. Sunday also saw the greatest number of deaths in Gaza - 21 - since the start of the campaign.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called the airstrike “an ugly massacre.”
Sixty-seven people, over 20 of them children, have been killed in Gaza during Israel’s ongoing military campaign, Gaza’s health ministry said on Sunday. Over 20 of those killed were children, medics say.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier on Sunday that Israel was doing all it could to minimize civilian deaths in Gaza.
Netanyahu also warned that Israel’s army was prepared to “significantly expand” the now 5-day-long campaign, which was launched in response to a surge in Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel from Gaza. The increase in rocket attacks followed the death of a 13-year-old Palestinian boy during an Israeli military operation in Gaza on November 8.
Nine people were injured, one of them seriously, in southern Israel by rockets fired from Gaza on Sunday, health officials said. Three Israelis have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza since the start of Israel’s military operation.
Israel began bombing Gaza last week in response to a surge in Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel.
US President Barack Obama has said Washington fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself, but has urged Israel not to begin a ground operation.
Israel’s last invasion of Gaza, in 2008-2009, killed 1,400 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians. Thirteen Israelis died in the 22-day military operation.
Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood movement that Hamas is an offshoot of, has warned that an Israeli invasion of Gaza would have “terrible consequences” for the Middle East.
Mursi also said that truce negotiations were underway, but he said there were no guarantees they would prove a success.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that Moscow supports Mursi’s efforts to bring peace to Gaza. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will discuss the crisis with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to visit Israel and Egypt next week to seek an end to the fighting.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Sunday that a ground operation would cost Israel international support.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called Israeli’s attack on Gaza a pre-election ploy ahead of January polls in the Jewish state.