Israel launched pre-dawn air strikes on Tuesday against the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, its military announced, with the health ministry of the Hamas-controlled territory saying nine people were killed.
The ministry said that women and children were among the dead, but did not give further details as to the identity of the victims.
An AFP journalist in Gaza saw the top of a building on fire after the strikes as well as ambulances evacuating the victims.
The Israeli army said it had targeted three leaders of Islamic Jihad, which it considers a terrorist organisation. In statements, it identified the targets as Jihad Ghannam and Khalil Al-Bahtani in the Gaza Strip, and Tareq Ezzdine in the West Bank.
In Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, an AFP photographer saw the body of a man identified as Ghannam.
The air strikes, which began a little after 2 am (2300 GMT), were still going nearly two hours later, according to AFP journalists, with a new explosion heard in the east.
The operation comes less than a week after Islamic Jihad announced a truce around Gaza – brokered with help from Egypt – following a fresh flare-up in violence on the heels of one of its members, who had been on hunger strike, dying in an Israeli prison.