Israeli aircraft attacked Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday, causing widespread panic and confusion, according to Hamas and the Israeli military. Health Ministry official Moawiya Hassanain told the Associated Press at least 145 people were killed.
In one of the compounds, the bodies of more than a dozen uniformed security officers were seen lying on the ground. One officer, who had survived, raised his index finger in a show of Muslim faith and defiance.
The Israeli military confirmed it attacked Hamas security compounds with air strikes and residents reported hearing two waves of explosions. In the first wave, there were at least 15 blasts, they said.
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
Civilians rushed to the targeted areas, trying to move the wounded in their cars to hospitals.
There was no sign of an accompanying Israeli ground offensive. In recent days, Israel has warned it would strike back hard for renewed rocket attacks on Israeli border towns from inside Gaza.
Many of the Hamas security compounds are in residential areas and the air strikes took place as children were leaving school. Plumes of black smoke rose over Gaza City, sirens wailed through the streets and women frantically looked for their children.
Israel has targeted Gaza in the past but the number of simultaneous attacks was unprecedented.