Gaza's health ministry accused the Israeli military of using disproportionate force, citing the scorched and torn bodies of several victims.
Israel has been heavily bombing the besieged Gaza Strip Wednesday for the second day in the most violent onslaught in months. The death toll from the air campaign increased to 32 Palestinians, including three minors; while at least 70 others including 30 children were wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
In the eastern part of the enclave, Ayyad, a 54-year-old farmer, and Amir, 8, were coming back home from the farm on a motorcycle when they stopped to greet Islam, 25.
Moments later, an Israeli airstrike killed the Ayyad family members in front of their house.
The bodies, along with others of Palestinian victims were brought to hospitals in taxis and ambulances, witnesses recounted; adding that relatives gathered outside the hospitals and many could be seen weeping and screaming.
Ashraf al-Qudra, the spokesman for Gaza's health ministry, said the ministry raised its level of alertness in the emergency and intensive care units since the start of the Israeli military operation.
"Our medical staff has dealt with difficult cases, including severe burns, complex fractures, and deep wounds," he told Middle East Eye, saying that most of the wounded were suffering from moderate to severe injuries.
Qudra accused the Israeli military of using disproportionate force, citing the scorched and torn bodies of several victims.
The new spiral of violence started Tuesday when the Israeli forces pounded the home of top Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata, assassinating him and his wife and severely injuring his children.
The targeted assassination had sparked widespread anger in the enclave and provoked the launching of reprisal rockets from the armed group into Israel.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s administration ordered Wednesday the resumption of bombardments over Gaza in response to the rockets. Israeli fighter jets targetted various areas of the coastal enclave, including the city's center, as well as agricultural lands in the eastern part of the Strip, according to the Maan News Agency.
Netanyahu said Israel was prepared to keep bombarding Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza as long as rocket fire continued, when only two of those killed were Islamic Jihad members; the rest being civilians living in densely populated neighborhoods.
"They have one choice: to stop these attacks or absorb more and more blows. Their choice," Netanyahu said during a cabinet meeting.
In the same voice, Israel's defense minister Naftali Bennett confirmed his country will not hesitate to target more members of the Islamic Jihad group.
"Over the past 24 hours the Jihad Islamic terrorists shot over 250 rockets and missiles on Israelis," he declared.
"Israeli security forces will hunt down every terrorist until our children are secure and safe," he said adding that more than 80 people have been injured since the fighting began.
For his part, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, said the "Israeli escalation" must immediately stop, Wafa news agency reported.
He called on the international community to immediately intervene to pressure Israel to stop its "continued aggression", and to respect international law, Wafa added.
Hamas, the organization that governs the Gaza Strip, appeared to be opting for staying out of the fighting for the moment.
On the other hand, Egyptian officials said Nickolay Mladenoy, a United Nations Middle East envoy, arrived Tuesday in Cairo to lead de-escalation efforts.
Islamic Jihad offered conditions for the Egyptian-mediated Gaza ceasefire with Israel, saying if these were not met it could continue cross-border attacks indefinitely.
The conditions laid out by Islamic Jihad leader Zeyad al-Nakhala in an interview with Al-Mayadeen TV included an end to Israel's targeted assassinations of fighters and Gaza border protesters, as well as measures to ease a blockade on the Palestinian enclave. There was no immediate response from Israel.