Image: Damaged Gaza house.
Mahmud Hams  /  AFP - Getty Images
Palestinians inspect the damage to a house targeted in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Friday.
updated 8/4/2006 8:36:46 PM ET 2006-08-05T00:36:46

Israeli airstrikes early Saturday killed four Palestinians and wounded five more in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, officials said.

In the first strike a 16-year-old girl and her brother, 15, were killed said Dr. Ali Musa, the director of the local hospital. Their mother Huda, 50, died later of her wounds.

Four other people, all civilians, were also seriously wounded, he said. Earlier he had said the dead were a woman in her 60s and her son.

A third person, a militant, was killed in a second strike in the same area. He was a member of the Islamic Jihad, the group said.

The Israeli army said its aircraft had fired at several armed Palestinians.

With the latest airstrike, 15 Palestinians have been killed since Israeli troops and tanks moved into southern Gaza three days ago.

Israel launched its Gaza offensive after a June 25 cross-border raid by Hamas-linked militants who tunneled into Israel and attacked an army post, killing two soldiers and capturing a third.

Israel has demanded the release of the soldier and an end to the firing of homemade rockets at Israel by Gaza militants.

Israeli ground forces have moved in and out of several parts of the territory regularly since then, confronting armed militants and leaving behind considerable destruction.

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