Gaza City: Eight Gazans were killed, among them two minors and four militants, as tensions soared along the border after days of rocket fire and retaliatory air strikes.
The victims died in two separate Israeli attacks on the eastern part of Gaza City following a day of bloodshed and violence.
Two of the dead were youngsters, aged 11 and 16, and four of them were from the armed wing of the radical Islamic Jihad movement, medical and militant sources said.
Four of the victims died when an Israeli shell slammed into a family home in Shejaiya, medics said.
Several hours later, another four people were killed -- all of them militants -- in an Israeli air strike in the nearby Zeitun neighbourhood.
The surge in bloodshed follows days of rising cross-border violence, which has ramped up tensions between Israel and Gaza's Islamist Hamas rulers and once again raised fears of a large-scale Israeli military invasion to stamp out rocket fire.
The latest attack took place in Zeitun, killing four members of the Al-Quds Brigade, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, a group spokesman said, naming them as Mohammed Abed, Saada Heles, Adham al-Harazine and Mohammed Atya al-Harazine.
The army confirmed the strike, saying it had hit "a group of terrorists who were about to fire rockets towards Israel."
The air strike came hot on the heels of deadly hit on the Shejaiya house, which killed four, two of them minors, and injured another 12, among them at least three young children.
Emergency services spokesman Adham Abu Selmiya said the deaths occurred when Israeli artillery "opened fire on young people who were playing football."
The dead, three of whom were cousins, were named as Mohammed al-Helu, 11; Yasser Ahad al-Helu, 16; Yasser Hamad al-Helu, 50 and Mohammed Harara, 20.
Four of the injured were in serious condition while the other eight were in moderate condition, Abu Selmiya said.
First Published: Wednesday, March 23, 2011, 10:16