GAZA CITY – Israel escalated air strikes on Gaza for a second day on Thursday, November 15, amid Israeli threats of invading the Palestinian enclave and assassinating Hamas Premier Ismail Haniyeh.
"We condemn the killing of any Palestinian, regardless of their political affiliation," said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian delegate to the United Nations, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"Assassination is illegal from the point of view of international law, and Israel is committing a crime through the assassination of Palestinian individuals and Palestinian leaders."
Israel continued airstrikes on Gaza for a second day on Thursday, taking the Palestinian death toll to 13.
Israeli planes hit targets in northern Gaza, Gaza City and east of Khan Yunis, injuring three people.
Among the dead were five Hamas fighters, two children, a woman and an elderly man, a Palestinian medic said.
In response, Palestinian resistance groups fired salvos of rockets into southern Israel, killing at least three Israelis.
"We have three killed," Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP, saying four other people were also injured in a "direct hit on a house" in Kiryat Malachi, a town which lies 30 kilometres (18 miles) northeast of the Gaza Strip.
The attack on Kiryat Malachi was claimed by Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades in a statement on its website.
The violence started Wednesday after Israel killed the head of Ezzedine al-Qassam Bridgades, Ahmed Jaabari, in an air strike.
Israel has said the strikes were only "the beginning" of an offensive targeting Gaza fighters and warned it may expand its activity.
"If it becomes necessary, we are prepared to expand the operation," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Wednesday evening.
The Israeli onslaught on Gaza has invited widespread international condemnation.
"The Israelis must realise that this aggression is unacceptable and would only lead to instability in the region and would negatively and greatly impact the security of the region," Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi said.
"We are in contact with the people of Gaza and with Palestinians and we stand by them until we stop the aggression and we do not accept under any circumstances the continuation of this aggression on the Strip.”
In a telephone conversation with US President Barack Obama, Mursi said he discussed "ways to reach calm and end the aggression".
Egypt on Wednesday summoned its ambassador from Israel in protest at the Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Cairo also called urgent meetings of the UN Security Council and the Arab League to discuss the Israeli assault.
Egypt, only one of two Arab countries with a peace treaty with Israel, has played a role in recent years brokering a suspension of hostilities between Israel and Hamas rulers in Gaza.
A White House statement said Obama held talks with Egypt’s president and Israeli Premier Netanyahu to discuss ways of restoring calm.
"The president urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties. The two agreed that Hamas needs to stop its attacks on Israel to allow the situation to de-escalate," it said in a statement."The president also spoke with President Mursi given Egypt's central role in preserving regional security. In their conversation, President Obama condemned the rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and reiterated Israel's right to self-defense," it said.