The Palestinians were killed in after-dark aerial attacks following violence in which at least 11 other people, including two women, were killed by Israeli fire during the day.

 

Of the eight killed in night-time air strikes over the towns of Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya, Jabaliya and Rafah, at least five were Palestinian fighters, including one Hamas security officer who was killed when his car was hit in Rafah.

 

Two rescue workers also died in a strike in Jabaliya.

 

It was the third day of Operation Autumn Clouds which has come on top of four months of Israeli military operations in Gaza since a soldier was captured in late June.

 

An Israeli military spokesman confirmed at least five different air strikes throughout the Gaza Strip since 8.40pm local time, saying they were targeting suspected fighters who were planting explosives or behind rocket attacks on Israel.

 

"I know we hit our targets," the spokesman told AFP, saying they were two fighters planting explosives around Beit Hanoun, a cell of rocket launchers and five suspected Hamas members involved in rocket attacks.

 

The raids came just hours after gunmen escaped a besieged mosque in a rescue bid mounted by women in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, which Israeli troops have been occupying since Wednesday.