Israel carried out air strikes on Gaza in the early hours of Thursday morning in response to rockets fired from the area just a day after the strip's ruling Hamas Movement warned of retaliation following a raid in the West Bank city of Nablus in which Israeli soldiers killed 11 Palestinians and wounded over 100 others.
The militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks that it said were in response to the "major crime" Israel carried out with the raid in Nablus.
Israeli forces said they hit a Hamas “weapons manufacturing site and military compound” in central and northern Gaza.
Militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, said one of the men killed in Thursday's raid was a gunman from the group.
“The resistance in Gaza is monitoring the escalating crimes conducted by the enemy against our people in the occupied West Bank and is running out of patience,” Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for the Hamas armed wing, said on Telegram.
In Israel, senior members of the government including former prime minister Yair Lapid and Interior Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir congratulated Israeli forces on Wednesday's operation in which over 80 were treated for gunshot wounds.
The military said it was carried out in response to “counterterrorism”.
Mr Ben-Gvir called the Israeli military “heroes”.
They made no mention of civilian casualties suffered on the Palestinian side, which included men aged 72 and 75 as well as a 16-year-old.
Top Palestinian official Hussein Al Sheikh described the raid as a "massacre" and called for "international protection for our people".
The number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces this year has reached 61. The Palestinian Health Ministry has called this the “bloodiest since the year 2000” when the second Intifada took place.
Mr Al Sheikh said the Palestinian leadership would request international protection at the UN Security Council.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE condemned Israel's actions on Wednesday, with the kingdom calling them a "severe violation of international law", while the US expressed “great concern” over the rise in tension in the West Bank.
The UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation called on Israeli authorities to “avoid taking steps to exacerbate tensions and instability in the region”.
Qatar, Egypt and Jordan also condemned the raid and US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the Biden administration “is extremely concerned by the levels of violence in Israel and the West Bank”.
“We recognise the very real security concerns facing Israel. At the same time, we are deeply concerned by the large number of injuries and the loss of civilian lives,” he said. – Additional reporting by agencies