(Al Jazeera Media Network) Thirty Palestinians have been killed and more than 90 injured in Israeli air attacks on the Gaza Strip since Tuesday, the Palestinian health ministry has said.
The victims include six children and three women as well as the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) rocket force and his deputy.
Palestinian factions in Gaza continued to fire rockets in retaliation from the besieged coastal enclave into Israel, killing one person on Thursday.
Amid mediation efforts by Egypt, neither side seemed ready to douse the worst flare-up since August, now in its third day.
“We are at the height of a campaign, both offensive and defensive,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a videotaped statement issued during a visit to an air base.
“Whoever comes to harm us – his blood is forfeit.”
The deaths of Ali Ghali and Ahmed Abu Daqqa brought to five the number of senior figures from PIJ killed since Israel began attacking Gaza early on Tuesday.
Cairo, which hosted senior PIJ official Mohammad al-Hindi for talks, was circumspect about prospects for a ceasefire.
“Egypt’s efforts to calm things down and resume the political process have not yet borne fruit,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told reporters.
Meeting Jordanian, French, and German counterparts in Berlin, Shoukry urged “peace-sponsoring countries to intervene and stop the attacks,” and said Israel must “stop the unilateral measures that aim to destroy the future of the Palestinian state.”
Among terms for a truce, PIJ wants an end to Israeli assassinations of its leaders.
The initial Israeli air attacks on Tuesday that set off the exchange of fire killed three senior PIJ fighters and at least 10 civilians, most of them women and children.
Israel has kept crossings for the movement of people and goods closed since Tuesday, blocking travel entirely, even for urgent humanitarian needs, and preventing patients from accessing medical treatment not available in Gaza, human rights groups have said.