At least 227 people have been killed during co-ordinated Israeli attacks on Hamas police compounds in the Gaza Strip.
More than 700 people were injured, including children, as Israeli warplanes and combat helicopters fired at least 30 missiles on the security installations which were reduced to rubble.
The attacks took place as youngsters left school for the day and television pictures from one compound showed uniformed bodies lying in a pile as those wounded writhed in pain.
Rescuers carried bodies showing signs of life to cars and ambulances, while others tried to revive the unconscious. One of the police stations had been hosting a graduation ceremony at the time of the attacks.
Gaza police chief Tawfiq Jabber is among those killed in the raids which took just minutes and left columns of thick black smoke billowing across the area.
There were more casualties in Khan Younis, a refugee camp in the south. At one site, a huge crater was left in the ground. Nearby medics carried people into an ambulance.
Later, a retaliatory strike by Palestinian militants from Gaza killed an Israeli woman. Another two people in the Israeli town of Netivot were wounded, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said.
The Israeli military confirmed they had conducted strikes, saying they targeted "terrorist infrastructure".
An Israeli military spokeswoman said Hamas leaders could be attacked as part of the offensive. Major Avital Leibovitch, said: "Anything belonging to Hamas could be a target. You can interpret that as you like."
The US has urged Israel to avoid civilian casualties and said Hamas must stop rocket attacks into Israel for the violence to cease. However, the White House did not call for an end to the air strikes.
The attacks followed a decision by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's security cabinet to widen reprisals for cross-border Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel. He had warned Hamas to stop firing rockets or pay a heavy price.
On Friday, about a dozen rockets and mortar bombs were fired from Gaza after Israel eased a blockade of the Strip bowing to international pressure to reopen border crossings.
One accidentally struck a northern Gaza house killing two Palestinian sisters, aged five and 13, and wounding a third, Palestinian medics said.
Israel withdrew its forces and settlers from Gaza in 2005 and Mr Olmert has said he does not wish to re-occupy the coastal strip.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni discussed the crisis on Thursday with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, which borders Gaza to the west and which brokered the truce in June. Mr Mubarak urged restraint on both sides.
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