GAZA/JERUSALEM - Israeli air strikes killed eight members of a family including five children in a pre-dawn raid on Gaza on Thursday, Palestinian officials said, while Hamas-led fighters launched rockets at Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.
Israel's military had no immediate comment on the report of the deadliest single bombing raid since its Gaza offensive began on Tuesday. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the strike destroyed at least two homes in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who will brief the Security Council on the crisis later on Thursday, condemned the rocket attacks and urged Israel to show restraint. "Gaza is on a knife edge," he told reporters.
At least 66 Palestinians have been killed in the violence, more than 50 of them civilians, Gaza medical officials said.
Israel says its offensive is intended to halt rocket fire at its cities from the Gaza Strip. More than 320 rockets have been fired during the campaign, reaching into the country's interior.
The rockets have caused no serious casualties, due in part to interceptions by Israel's Iron Dome aerial defence system.
But the barrages but have paralysed business in southern communities and sent hundreds of thousands of people scrambling for shelter in Tel Aviv, the commercial capital, in cities close to northern Haifa port and in the holy city of Jerusalem.
Dimona, a southern desert town where Israel's main nuclear reactor is located, was shelled on Wednesday but the military said those rockets were either intercepted or fell wide.
Hamas, the dominant Islamist group in Gaza, said it fired eight rockets at Israel early on Thursday, two of them at Tel Aviv, where witnesses saw them being shot down by Iron Dome.
Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman, said Iron Dome also intercepted rockets launched at the cities of Beersheba and Ashkelon overnight.
"We are putting the pressure up every day," he said. "Is it leading a to a ground force incursion? I still can't confirm that will actually happen. I can confirm that we are making all necessary preparations in order to be ready for that."
The Israeli military had called up 20,000 reserve troops to back up regular forces mobilized for Gaza, Lerner added.
Palestinians said Israel bombed more than 120 homes since Tuesday. Several Gaza government buildings were hit on Thursday.