Thursday killed a senior Hamas political
leader in an air strike in the Gaza Strip, the first such attack in its six-day-old offensive.
The air strike killed Nizar Rayyan along with nine other people, including his wife and three children, Hamas said. Another 25 people were wounded. Security sources told Ynet that the house was also used as an arms cache, a communications headquarters and concealed a tunnel's opening.
Israeli military sources confirmed that Rayyan, who was considered the Hamas leadership's liaison with the group's military wing, was killed in an attack on his north Gaza home.
Prior to striking Rayyan's house the IDF tried to warn his family about the imminent attack and urged them to evacuate the place, but they refused to do so.
The army has recently held deliberations regarding the legality of striking homes used as weapons storages when sufficient warning is given to the residents. It has been decided that this falls within the boundaries of international law and is therefore legitimate.
Most of Hamas' leaders have gone into hiding since the Israeli operation in Gaza began, but Rayyan recently pledged not to leave his house under any circumstances.
Rayyan was an outspoken advocate of renewing suicide bombings against the Jewish state. He also sent his son to carry out a suicide attack in the community of Eley Sinai in 2001 in which two Israelis was killed, and was behind the bombing in the Ashdod Port in 2004 which left 10 Israelis dead.
Wednesday saw Rayyan speak at a Gaza mosque and call on Muslims everywhere to pray for the Palestinians in the Strip. "We do not need money or weapons, we only need your prayers. We can handle the enemy ourselves."
Palestinian sources reported Thursday afternoon that Israeli fighter jets attacked a school in Gaza City, killing 10 people. Earlier, Israeli aircraft struck and destroyed a launching pad in Gaza that was used to fire a rocket at Ashdod.
Three other homes belonging to terrorists in north Gaza were also attacked. The army said the homes were used to store rockets, explosive devices and antitank missiles.
Some 20 targets, including a vehicle and an underground tunnel, have been hit by the Air Force since the morning hours. Among the targets were also the Legislative Council's building and the offices of the Justice Ministry.
Earlier, Hamas announced that it would be willing to consider the European Union's proposed ceasefire in Gaza "under certain conditions".
However, the terror groups continued to fire rockets and mortar shells on Israel's south throughout Thursday.
Ali Waked, Hanan Greenberg and Ron Ben-Yishai contributed to the report