Israel launched its largest offensive in the Gaza Strip in nearly two years, carrying out a blistering aerial assault on scores of targets and killing 25 people.
Officials called it an open-ended operation aimed at ending weeks of heavy rocket fire. As Gaza militants unleashed salvos on cities including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel mobilised forces along the border for a possible ground invasion.
The offensive set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012.
The militants fired about 160 rockets at Israel, including a strike that reached the northern city of Hadera for the first time, while Israel said it attacked more than 150 sites across Gaza.
Palestinian medics reported at least 25 dead, including six killed in an air strike that flattened an apartment building in southern Gaza and set off widespread panic.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said continued rocket attacks on Israeli communities would not be tolerated.
“Therefore I have ordered the military to significantly broaden its operation against Hamas terrorists and against the other terrorist groups inside Gaza,” he said on national TV.
“I call on you to display patience because this operation could take time.”
In pictures: Israel launches further air strikes on Gaza
In pictures: Israel launches further air strikes on Gaza
1/104 Israeli border with Gaza
Israeli soldiers rest next to artillery shells from an artillery unit near the Israeli border with Gaza
2/104 Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border
Palestinian mourners pray in a mosque during the funeral for those killed in a three-storey house belonging to the Abu Jamaa family the day before, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip
3/104 Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border
Palestinian mourners pray over five bodies, all from the Halaq family, during their funeral in the Jabalia refugee camp, in the Gaza Strip
MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images
4/104 Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border
The aunt of Palestinian boy Mohammed Ayad, who medics said was killed during heavy Israeli shelling, mourns as she looks at his body during his funeral in Gaza City
5/104 Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border
Two Palestinian men flee their homes during a temporary ceasefire in the heavily-hit Shuja’iya neighbourhood in Gaza City
6/104 Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border
Palestinian women react next to the rubble of their relatives' house, which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip
7/104 Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border
Palestinians gather as a bulldozer searches for victims amongst the rubble of a house, which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip
8/104 Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border
Palestinians paramedics lift the body of a man from the Al Shejaeiya neighbourhood, during a brief period of ceasefire requested by local rescue forces to retrieve dead and wounded from the Shuja'iyya neighbourhood in east Gaza City
9/104 Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border
An Israeli soldier gestures on a Merkava tank, as part of the Israeli army deployment near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip
10/104 Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border
Palestinian Beisan Dhahir (7) sleeps at Shifa hospital in Gaza City. Beisan's home was shelled and collapsed by Israel's military operation in Shijaiyah in the Gaza Strip. She survived the ordeal with her aunt and uncle. Beisan's mother, father, brother, sister and baby sister all died in the attack
11/104 Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border
A picture taken from Israel at the southern border with the Gaza strip shows smoke billowing from behind a hill following an Israeli air strike on Gaza City
12/104 Palestinians clashes with Israeli
Palestinians clashes with Israeli troops following the protest against the Israeli operations in Gaza at the al-Jalazone Camp in Ramallah, West Bank
13/104 Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border
An Israeli soldier sleeps on a tank near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip. Israeli strikes killed at least 20 people in Gaza on Saturday 19 July, taking the death toll from a 12-day bombardment to 324
Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images
14/104 Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border
Sderot, Israel: Soldiers are seen advancing towards the Israeli-Gaza border during an operation near Sderot, Israel. As operation 'Protective Edge' enters its 12th day, over 300 Gazans have been killed along with three Israeli soldiers
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
15/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinian men help a local journalist who got injured during an Israeli airstrike on an office building hosting several media outlets in Gaza City
16/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians help an injured colleague to leave a building hit by an Israeli air strike on Gaza City
17/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians leave their neighborhood to a safer location after Israel's army stared its ground offensive in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip
18/104 Israeli Gaza border
Israeli soldiers seen along the border with Gaza before the attack
19/104 Southern Gaza Strip
An Israeli missile strikes in Gaza City
20/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians run for shelter as they hear bombing in the distance while they flee their homes in the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, after Israel had airdropped leaflets warning people to leave the area
21/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Relatives of 4 Palestinian children killed in Israeli airstrike while they were playing on the beach, mourn in Gaza City
22/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian man cries as he holds the dead body of his young brother shortly after he got killed by an Israeli naval bombardment in the port of Gaza City in the morgue of the Shifa hospital in Gaza
23/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Young relatives of four boys, all from the Bakr family, killed during Israeli shelling, cry during their funeral in Gaza City
AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABEDMOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images
24/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinian employees of Gaza City's al-Deira hotel carry a wounded boy following an Israeli military strike nearby on the beach
THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images
25/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian man reads a leaflet dropped by Israeli Defense Forces over the Shuja'iyya neighbourhood in east Gaza. The paper says residents of the area are supposed to leave the area immediately and seek shelter in the center of Gaza City before the Israeli airforce will commence airstrikes. According to Israeli sources 100,000 people were notified to flee, only a few did
26/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinian children run to collect leaflets dropped by Israeli Defense Forces over the Shuja'iyya neighbourhood in east Gaza City
27/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians salvage what they can of their belongings from the rubble of their destroyed house following an early morning Israeli missile strike in Gaza City
28/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian man looks at a house destroyed by Israeli Defense Forces during an overnight air strike in Gaza City
29/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian man stands amidst the debris of the house of senior Hamas official Mahmud al-Zahar which was destroyed by Israeli Defense Forces in an air strike in Gaza City
30/104 Israeli Gaza border
Palestinians search a destroyed house following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah
31/104 Israeli Gaza border
A man walks near the Israeli Gaza border
32/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Smoke rises from a Palestinian house during an attack by Israeli missiles in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip. Israel bombed 40 more targets in the Gaza Strip and Palestinian militants launched at least 20 rockets across the border, despite a call by UN Secretary-General for a truce. The death toll rose to over 170 on the seventh day of the Israeli offensive, with more than 1,200 wounded, a Gaza Health Ministry spokesman said
33/104 Israeli Gaza border
A photo taken from the southern Israeli Gaza border shows Israeli army flares falling into the Palestinian enclave. Israel's security cabinet was to meet early on July 15 to discuss Egyptian proposals for a truce in Gaza, a senior official said, as an aerial campaign against Hamas entered its eighth day
34/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian elderly walks past a destroyed house in the north of Beit Lahiya town in the northern Gaza Strip
35/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian baby Abdullah Abu Halib, wounded during an Israeli airstrike, is treated at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis
36/104 Southern Gaza Strip
The funeral ceremony of three members of El-Muammer family, killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, is held in Khan Yunis
37/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Relatives carry the body of 3-year-old Palestinian boy Moayad al-Araj, who hospital officials said were killed in an Israeli air strike, during his funeral in Khan Younis
38/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinian relatives mourn during the funeral of four members of the Moamer family, including a 26-year-old militant of the Hamas movement, during their funeral in southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah
39/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A young Palestinian boy walks over debris from a house that was destroyed in an airstrike in Deir Al Balah
40/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinian boys inspect the damage in a mosque that was destroyed overnight by an Israeli airstrike in Deir Al Balah
41/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinian firefighters extinguish a fire that broke out after an Israeli air strike hit a car in Gaza City
42/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians gather around a firing car following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City
43/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian man walks next to a destroyed house following Israeli missile strike in Gaza City
44/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians gather around the remains of a house, which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Rafah
45/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians carry the body of three-year-old Mohammed Mnassrah who was killed along with his parents and brother in an airstrike, during his funeral in Al Maghazi refugee camp in the eastern Gaza Strip
46/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Relatives and friends of al-Hajj family mourn as they gather in a mosque to pray over the bodies of the eight family members during their funeral in Khan Yunis
A smoke and fire billowing from an Israeli gas station after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Palestinian Gaza Strip
48/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian firefighter hoses a boat hit in an missile strike at the port in Gaza City
49/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian firefighter hoses a boat damaged by an missile strike at the port in Gaza City
50/104 Southern Gaza Strip
The destroyed house of the Palestinian Abu Lealla family following an Israeli airstrike north of Gaza City
51/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians inspect the rubble of a house after it was hit by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City
Israeli fire-fighters extinguish a fire that broke out after a rocket hit a petrol station in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod
Israeli fire fighters extinguish vehicles destroyed by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip that hit a gas station in the city of Ashdod
Israeli fire fighters extinguish vehicles destroyed by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the city of Ashdod
Israeli firefighters try to extinguish the fire from several cars that were damaged by a missile fired from the Gaza Strip that hit a gas station in the southern city of Ashdod
Firefighters try to douse a fire from a rocket that hit a Petrol station in Ashdod
57/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A ball of fire is seen following an air strike on Rafah in the southern of Gaza strip
58/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinian firefighters extinguish fire from a building following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City
59/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian man walks on the rubble of a destroyed building following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City
60/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians carry bodies of seven people killed in a strike during their funeral in Khan Younis refugee camp
61/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Israel launched the military operation 'Protective Edge', which came in response to a renewed wave of rockets out of the Gaza Strip, for some of which Palestinian group Hamas has claimed responsibility. There have been more than 120 Israeli airstrikes in the coastal enclave, according to Palestinian sources, while hundreds of rockets and mortar shells have landed in southern Israel. Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner said the offensive, named Protective Edge, could grow into a 'ground mission if required'
62/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Flames engulf a building hit by an Israeli air strike
63/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians inspect damages following an Israeli air strike
64/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinian rescuers check a car hit by an Israeli air strike killing the driver in Gaza City
65/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian woman runs carrying a girl following what police said was an Israeli air strike on a house in Gaza city
66/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians sitting on a street react after a deadly Israeli air strike that targeted their house in the town of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip
67/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinian relatives mourn during the funeral of members of Hamad family in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip
68/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian man carries his wounded daughter into the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City following an Israeli air strike
69/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians stand on the edge of a crater as others look for people under the rubble of a house that was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City
70/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian removes rubble near a damaged building belonging to a senior Hamas official following an Israeli missile strike in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip
71/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians collect their belongings from the rubble of their house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Rafah
72/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Beit Hanoun, a city on the northeast edge of the Gaza Strip, hit by Israeli airstrike, West Bank
73/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian man removes blooded cushions from an outdoors sitting area following an Israeli air strike in Beit Hanun
74/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Relatives and friends of the al-Kaware family carry one of the 7 members of the family to the mosque during their funeral in Khan Yunis
75/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian boy who was injured in an Israeli airstrike, sits next to his mother after receiving treatment at a hospital in Khan Younis
76/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A picture taken from the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke billowing after an Israeli air strike in the Palestinian coastal enclave
77/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Wounded Palestinians are taken to hospitals after Israel airstrikes targeted different points of Gaza city
78/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian boy cries as he receives treatment at a hospital after he was injured in an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis
79/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Two Palestinian girls inspect the ruble of a destroyed house following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah refugee camp
80/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian woman makes her way through debris as people inspect the remains of a house belonging to a member of the Islamist Hamas movement following an Israeli air strike in the Gaza strip town of Khan Yunis
81/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian man searches for belongings under the rubble of a house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City
82/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinian men carry a pumpkin and watermelon as they walk across the rubble
83/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians stand atop the rubble of a house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike
84/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Smoke rises after an attack of Israeli aircraft in the South of Gaza City
85/104 Southern Gaza Strip
The father of killed Hamas militant Rashad Yassin (28) arrives at the morgue of the al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza strip
86/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Smoke and flames are seen following what police said was an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
87/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Fire fighters extinguish a vehicle targeted in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City
88/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Wounded people are taken to the hospital in Gaza city
89/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A smoke rises after an Israeli air strike in the Palestinian coastal enclave
90/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian girls in the rubble of the destroyed home of the Al Abadlla family following an Israeli airstrike in Khanyounis, southern Gaza Strip
91/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians inspect the rubble of a house after it was hit by an Israeli missile strike in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip
92/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians inspect destroyed area as smoke rises from the ruins in Khan Yunis after the Israeli airstrikes aiming Gaza
The Iron Dome air-defense system fires to intercept a rocket over the city of Ashdod. Due to recent escalation in the region, the Israeli army started new deployments at the border with the Gaza Strip
An Israeli soldier performs a morning prayer in an army deployment area near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip
95/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A woman stands inside her destroyed house in Khan Yunis
96/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians inspect destroyed area in Khan Yunis after the Israeli airstrikes aiming Gaza
97/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinian men carry an injured person into Gaza City's al-Shifa hospital following an Israeli air strike
98/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Smoke rises following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza City
99/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians collect their belongings from damaged houses after an Israeli missile strike hit Gaza City
100/104 Southern Gaza Strip
The Israeli air force launched dozens of raids on the Gaza Strip after massive rocket fire from the enclave pounded southern Israel, leaving many people injured
101/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian girl stands in a destroyed building following an Israeli military strike in Gaza City
102/104 Southern Gaza Strip
A destroyed building in seen following an Israeli military strike in in Khan Yunis, in the soutehrn Gaza Strip
103/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians march during funeral of Palestinian Marwan Sleem in the central Gaza Strip
104/104 Southern Gaza Strip
Israeli soldiers ride atop a tank outside the southern Gaza Strip. Israel launched a series of air strikes on Gaza to quell Hamas rocket fire, and the Islamist group's armed wing said seven of its gunmen were killed, making it the deadliest day for Hamas since a 2012 cross-border war with the Jewish state
Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies who have engaged in numerous rounds of fighting over the years. But until recently, they had been observing a truce that ended the previous hostilities in 2012.
Tensions have been rising since Palestinian militants were blamed for the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on June 12.
Accusing Hamas of being behind the abductions, Israel launched a crackdown on the group's members in the West Bank and arrested hundreds of people. Hamas, which controls Gaza, responded by stepping up rocket fire.
The situation deteriorated last week after the bodies of the Israeli youths were found, and a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem was abducted and burned to death in what Palestinians believe was a revenge attack.
Six Jewish Israelis have been arrested in the killing, and the rocket fire from Gaza has increased in recent days.
Palestinian youths clash with Israeli soldiers
The fighting raged throughout the day. In its fiercest attack, an airstrike flattened the home of a Hamas militant in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, reducing the concrete structure into a smouldering pile of rubble.
Palestinian medical officials said six people, including two children, were killed. Israel's military said it had called the home shortly before the airstrike to warn civilians to leave.
The normally bustling streets of Gaza City were deserted late yesterday. Fearing an Israeli ground operation, many residents from areas near the border moved to stay with relatives living deeper inside Gaza.
In southern Israel, hundreds of thousands of citizens were ordered to stay close to home because of the rockets.
Israeli streets were also quieter in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem after attempted rocket strikes set off air-raid sirens in Israel's two largest cities. The Jerusalem municipality said it was opening special bomb shelters.
Militants twice fired rockets at Tel Aviv, Israel's commercial capital, sending people scurrying for cover. Both were intercepted by the “Iron Dome” rocket defence system, with the second shown on live TV, as a winding plume of smoke followed the interceptor into the black skies, culminating with a flash.
Late yesterday, Hamas said it fired four rockets toward Jerusalem, and two distant booms were heard from the city's centre. Three rockets landed in the Jerusalem area, officials said, and police said there were no injuries.
The Israeli military said one rocket exploded in the northern Israeli city of Hadera, about 60 miles from Gaza, in the farthest distance a rocket from Gaza has reached so far. It caused no injuries, the army added.
With its new reach, Hamas' rockets now have an estimated 5 million people - more than half of Israel's population - in range.
Hamas said it had used a new rocket called the R-160 after one of its leaders, Abdel Rantisi, who was killed last decade.
In other violence, the Israeli military said it foiled Gaza militants who tried to infiltrate a military base in southern Israel by sea.
It said four attackers came ashore and attacked the base with grenades and automatic rifles before they were killed. An Israeli soldier was slightly wounded.
As Israel built up forces along the border, the government authorised the army to activate up to 40,000 reservists.
The army said that about 1,000 soldiers were immediately activated, in addition to an earlier group of 1,500 reservists called into action.
“If we need to go inside in a ground operation, then we will do it. These things are on the table. These options exist. We will not stop anything until the rocket firing ends,” said Yitzhak Aharonovitch, the minister for internal security. Israel's last ground offensive was in 2009.
The US State Department condemned the rocket fire on Israeli civilians, defended Israel's right to protect itself, and said it hoped Israel's “strong message” would deter further attacks.
In Gaza, Abu Obeida, a masked spokesman for Hamas' military wing, accused Israel of violating the 2012 agreement and demanded a halt to the airstrikes, its recent crackdown in the West Bank and its opposition to a Palestinian unity government that is backed by Hamas.