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At least 11 civilians killed in Israeli airstrike

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    A woman stands next to a damaged house after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza Strip landed in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. Israel launched the operation last Wednesday by assassinating Hamas’ military chief and carrying out dozens of airstrikes on rocket launchers and weapons storage sites. Over the weekend, the operation began to target Hamas government installations as well, including the offices of its prime minister and attacks on a major training base and the two media centers. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

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    A member of the Abdel Aal family is rescued after his family house collapsed during an Israeli forces strike in the Tufah neighbourhood, Gaza City, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. The Israeli military widened its range of targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday to include the media operations of the Palestinian territory's Hamas rulers, sending its aircraft to attack two buildings used by both Hamas and foreign media outlets. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

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    Israeli police sappers remove the remains of a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza Strip, that hit a house in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. Israel launched the operation last Wednesday by assassinating Hamas’ military chief and carrying out dozens of airstrikes on rocket launchers and weapons storage sites. Over the weekend, the operation began to target Hamas government installations as well, including the offices of its prime minister. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

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    An Israeli police officer looks through a hole in the ceiling of a damaged house after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza Strip landed in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. Israel launched the operation last Wednesday by assassinating Hamas’ military chief and carrying out dozens of airstrikes on rocket launchers and weapons storage sites. Over the weekend, the operation began to target Hamas government installations as well, including the offices of its prime minister. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

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    An Israeli police officer stands inside a damaged house after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza Strip landed in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. Israel launched the operation last Wednesday by assassinating Hamas’ military chief and carrying out dozens of airstrikes on rocket launchers and weapons storage sites. Over the weekend, the operation began to target Hamas government installations as well, including the offices of its prime minister. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

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    The dead body of a Palestinian woman from the Abdel Aal family is pulled out from the rubble after the family house collapsed during an Israeli forces strike in the Tufah neighbourhood, Gaza City, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. The Israeli military widened its range of targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday to include the media operations of the Palestinian territory's Hamas rulers, sending its aircraft to attack two buildings used by both Hamas and foreign media outlets. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

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    A Hamas officer inspects an unexploded Israeli bomb in Gaza City, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with more than 180 airstrikes early Saturday, the military said, widening a blistering assault on militant operations to include the prime minister's headquarters, a police compound and a vast network of smuggling tunnels. The new attacks followed an unprecedented rocket strike aimed at the contested holy city of Jerusalem that raised the stakes in Israel's violent confrontation with Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

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    Palestinians hurry away from a damaged building after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. Israel widened the range of targets in its Gaza offensive Sunday, striking more than a dozen homes of suspected Hamas militants and two media offices, according to security officials and witnesses. The attacks also damaged adjacent houses, killing seven civilians, including five children, health officials said. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

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A member of the Abdel Aal family is rescued after his family house collapsed during an Israeli forces strike in the Tufah neighbourhood, Gaza City, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. The Israeli military widened its range of targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday to include the media operations of the Palestinian territory's Hamas rulers, sending its aircraft to attack two buildings used by both Hamas and foreign media outlets. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — An Israeli missile flattened a two-story house in a residential neighborhood of Gaza City on Sunday, killing at least 11 civilians, medical officials said, as Israel expanded its targets of its offensive to target homes of wanted militants.

The attack, the single deadliest incident of the five-day-old Israeli operation, was likely to raise international pressure for a halt to the offensive.

The airstrike targeted the home of the Daloo family in Gaza City's Nasser neighborhood, reducing it to rubble.

Five women, including one 80-year-old, and four small children were among the dead, said Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra.

Frantic rescuers pulled the children's bodies from the ruins of the house, including a toddler and a 5-year-old, as survivors and bystanders screamed in grief. Later, the bodies of the children were laid out in the morgue of Gaza City's Shifa Hospital.

The Israeli military said the target of the attack was a top rocket mastermind of the Islamic Jihad militant group. The claim could not be verified, and al-Kidra said the two men killed in the attack were also civilians.

The blast also damaged nearby buildings, and injured women and children were evacuated by ambulances.

The deaths brought to 66 the number of Palestinians killed in the Israeli offensive, including 32 civilians, said al-Kidra. Three Israeli civilians have also been killed in the fighting.

The incident threatened to change the momentum of an offensive that Israel previously has said was going smoothly and according to plan.

The Israeli military says it has fine-tuned its weapons and tactics to avoid civilian casualties. It also blames Palestinian militants for endangering civilians by storing and firing rockets from residential areas.

But the new tactic of hitting the family homes of suspected militant figures ran the risk of increasing civilian casualties. More than a dozen Hamas-linked houses were hit on Sunday. Some were empty after residents fled to find shelter elsewhere, but in several strikes, women, children and civilian men were killed or wounded.

Israel launched the offensive last Wednesday in a bid to end months of intensifying rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. After days of strikes on rocket launchers and storage sites, Israel announced earlier Sunday that it was widening its campaign of airstrikes by targeting the homes of militant masterminds.

While claiming to inflict heavy damage on the militants, the rocket fire has continued uninterrupted.

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