Israeli air force struck targets inside Gaza for the fifth day Saturday, as rockets fired from the Palestinian territory set off alarms across southern Israel.
Officials in Gaza say about 120 people have been killed in Israeli military strikes since operations began in response to weeks of Palestinian rocket fire into Israel.
A mosque in central Gaza was among the targets struck Saturday.
Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson Lieutenant Libby Weiss says the building was being used by Hamas militants.
“It’s important to note that this was a mosque that was used almost entirely for Hamas operations. Meaning as a structure perhaps yes it was a mosque but it was very clear that it was being used, and I would say almost hijacked by Hamas for terror purposes,” Weiss said.
The United Nations humanitarian affairs office has said the majority of Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes since operations began have been civilians.
Several Israeli citizens have been wounded by Palestinian rockets, which are being launched at longer range than in previous conflicts. Israeli defense forces credit their Iron Dome missile defense system, which intercepts rockets in mid-air, with preventing greater casualties.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday Israel is considering all military options despite international calls for a cease-fire.
Britain, France and Turkey have expressed concerns about the loss of life in Gaza. U.S. President Barack Obama says the U.S. is willing to help facilitate a cessation of hostilities, while backing “Israel’s right to defend itself.”
Dr. Mahdi Abdul Hadi, head of a Palestinian academic society in Jerusalem (PASSIA), says both Israeli and Palestinian leadership have shown little willingness to back down.
“Netanyahu is refusing any reconciliation, any negotiations, any halting of the operations and he is carrying on the mission as usual,” Hadi said. “The same thing, Hamas is going forward as planned, saying whatever will happen will happen to all of us.”
Israel claims to have hit more than 1,100 targets inside Gaza since operations began. The military has called up more than 30,000 reservists and is now weighing whether to begin ground operations in Gaza.