GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli attacks killed three people in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, a day after fighting that left 24 Palestinians dead, Palestinian medical workers said.
Israel’s offensive into Gaza to recover a captured soldier and end cross-border rocket attacks has largely been overshadowed by fighting against Hizbollah guerrillas in Lebanon, but shows no sign of slackening.
Those who died on Thursday included a 75-year-old woman, whose house was hit by a missile or shell. The identity of the other dead, aged 16 and 23, was not immediately clear. Medical workers said the two were killed in an air strike.
The army was checking the reports.
At least 148 Palestinians have been killed in the assault. Wednesday’s death toll was the highest since Israeli troops returned to the territory in late June, less than a year after they had withdrawn following a 38-year occupation.
Tanks and troops pushed into northeastern Gaza, a stronghold of militants firing rockets into Israel, early on Wednesday and have remained. At least 12 of those killed on Wednesday were militants.
Militants have kept up attacks with homemade rockets despite the Israeli offensive.
Israel has rejected demands for a prisoner exchange by the gunmen who captured Corporal Gilad Shalit in a border raid on June 25. Some of the gunmen came from the armed wing of the governing Hamas Islamist group.
The offensive has put pressure on the Hamas-led government, which was already struggling under a crippling U.S.-led aid embargo, designed to force the group to recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence and accept past peace deals.
Israeli troops also surrounded a house in the West Bank city of Jenin. Residents said they opened fire at stone throwers, slightly wounding two.