Israeli air strikes pounded Gaza while the militant Islamic Jihad group fired hundreds of rockets into Israel on Saturday as a cross-border clash continued into a second day, killing at least six people, including four children.
Hamas, the Islamist group which controls the enclave, said the children were among the dead from a blast close to the Jabalya refugee camp and blamed Israel. The Israeli military denied it was responsible, saying the explosion was caused by a failed Islamic Jihad rocket launch.
It distributed a video that appeared to show a rocket being launched from Gaza at night and then veering immediately off course down into a built-up area. Reuters could not independently verify the footage.
While the Israeli strikes went on, hitting what the military said were weapons depots hidden in residential areas and destroying a number of houses, Islamic Jihad fired rocket salvoes as far as Israel's commercial hub Tel Aviv.
24 Palestinians, Including Six Children Killed
At least 24 Palestinians, including six children, have been killed and 203 wounded during the two days of firing, according to the Gaza health ministry.
Palestinian militants fired more than 400 rockets at Israel - most of them intercepted, setting off air raid sirens and sending people running to bomb shelters. There were no reports of serious casualties, the Israeli ambulance service said.
Intensive Talks To Calm The Situation
Egypt said it was engaged in intensive talks to calm the situation. Further escalation would largely depend on whether Hamas would opt to join the fighting alongside the smaller Islamic Jihad group.
An Egyptian intelligence delegation headed by Major General Ahmed Abdelkhaliq arrived in Israel on Saturday and would be travelling to Gaza for mediation talks, two Egyptian security sources said. They were hoping to secure a day's ceasefire in order to carry out the talks, the sources added.
"Intensive efforts have been made this evening and the movement listened to the mediators, but these efforts haven't reached an agreement yet," an Islamic Jihad official told Reuters late on Saturday.
The cross-border clash, which shattered more than a year of relative calm around Gaza, began when Israel launched a surprise attack on Friday, killing a senior Islamic Jihad commander and hitting a series of what it said were military targets.