Israeli strikes pound Palestine's blockaded Gaza for the second day with health authorities in the coastal strip announcing new death toll of 24 people, including six children, and 215 wounded.

Palestinians inspect damage caused by an Israeli air strike on a building in Sheikh Acleyn in western side of main Gaza City, Gaza.
Palestinians inspect damage caused by an Israeli air strike on a building in Sheikh Acleyn in western side of main Gaza City, Gaza. (AA)

Israeli air strikes have flattened homes in Palestine's Gaza, raising fears of an escalation that has so far killed at least 24 Palestinians, including six children, and wounded 215 others in the besieged enclave.

Palestinian Health Ministry blamed "Israeli aggression" for the latest deaths on Saturday, which also included "an elderly woman", and for hundreds of wounded Palestinians.

But an Israeli government statement denied blame for a strike in Jabalia refugee camp that killed children, claiming a rocket fired by Palestinian fighters towards Israel had fallen short. The claim could not be independently verified.

While the Israeli strikes went on, hitting what the military said were weapons depots hidden in residential areas and destroying a number of houses, fighters of Islamic Jihad fired rocket salvos as far as Israel's commercial hub Tel Aviv.

There were no reports of serious casualties, the Israeli ambulance service said.

The Islamic Jihad group said on  Friday that its senior leader Tayseer al Jabari was among those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza. The group launched rockets in retaliation since then.

Egypt said it was engaged in intensive talks to calm the situation.

But an Israeli military spokesperson said its forces were "preparing for the operation to last a week," and told the AFP news agency that the army is "not currently holding ceasefire negotiations".

READ MORE: Condemnations pour in after Israel launches deadly strikes on besieged Gaza

Harsh blockade 

Around 2.3 million Palestinians are packed into the narrow coastal Gaza, with Israel tightly restricting the movement of people and goods in and out of the enclave and imposing a land, sea and naval blockade.

Israel stopped the planned transport of fuel into Gaza shortly before it unilaterally struck on Friday, crippling the Palestinian area's lone power plant and reducing electricity to around eight hours per day and drawing warnings from health officials that hospitals would be severely impacted within days.

Israel's fence with Gaza had been largely quiet since May 2021, when 11 days of war between Israel and Palestine left at least 250 dead in Gaza and 13 in Israel.

Israeli air strikes have been concentrated across heavily populated residential areas in Gaza.

READ MORE: Gaza’s sole power plant shuts down as Israeli air strikes continue

'Devastating consequences'

United Nations Special Envoy Tor Wennesland has warned against the "devastating consequences" of the ongoing Israeli offensive on the Palestinians in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the UN envoy described the escalation as "very dangerous" and called on "all sides to avoid further escalation."

"The responsibility is with the parties to avoid this [escalation] from happening," he added.

Egypt's Al Azhar, the highest seat of learning in the Sunni Muslim world, has condemned the Israeli air strikes on Gaza, calling on Arabs and Muslims "to unite to support the Palestinians and their just cause as well as their legitimate struggle."

Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank has condemned Israel's attacks. US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said on Twitter that "Israel has a right to protect itself."

US State Department repeated its stance on Saturday and said it fully supported Israel's right to defend itself while urging all sides to avoid further escalation.

There were protests in Jordan in support of the besieged Palestinians.

Türkiye, Pakistan, Qatar and Iran were among the countries to condemn the ongoing violence, sparked by Israeli aggression on Gaza.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies