TEL AVIV, Israel, March 22 (UPI) -- At least eight Palestinians died in a series of Israeli army attacks on Gaza in response to missiles and rockets fired at southern Israel, officials said.
On Tuesday evening, four Palestinian gunmen were reportedly killed when a car they were riding in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza was hit in an Israeli airstrike, Israel's Channel Ten television reported. The army said the four were responsible for firing a Grad missile at Beersheba in southern Israel last month.
The army called on Israelis living in communities near the Gaza Strip to stay close to shelters and security rooms, suggesting Palestinians might fire additional projectiles at southern Israel during the night, Israel's Channel Two reported.
On Tuesday afternoon, the army said it was investigating the deaths of at least four Palestinians reportedly killed when mortar shells hit the entrance to a house east of Gaza City.
Ma'an news agency said five were killed while other Palestinian and Israeli media outlets put the number at four.
Shortly after the shells were fired, two Grad missiles were launched at southern Israel landing in open areas near Ashkelon, the army said. No one was injured and no damage was reported.
Palestinian officials in Gaza told the news agency a child, a teenager and three adults were killed in the afternoon, some members of the same family, and an unspecified number were injured when the shells hit the home.
Palestinian medics in Gaza identified the dead as Muhammad Jihad al-Hilu, 11, Yasser Ahed al-Hilu, 16, Muhammad Saber Harara, 20, and Yasser Hamer al-Hilu, 50. The identity of the third adult was not published, Ma'an said.
Adham Abu Salmiya, a spokesman for Gaza emergency services, told the news agency members of the al-Hilu family were playing football outside their home when the shells hit.
An army spokeswoman said the mortar shells were directed toward the site where Palestinians had fired mortar shells and a Qassam rocket at southern Israel earlier in the day. She said it appears the civilians who were not involved in the rocket attacks were inadvertently hit.
A Hamas official warned, "Israel won't feel secure as long as the Palestinian people don't feel secure," Ynetnews.com reported.
Earlier Tuesday, four mortar shells were fired by Palestinians at southern Israel, the army said.
Also Tuesday morning the Israeli army thwarted an attack on soldiers deployed in the northern Gaza Strip. Soldiers spotted a group of Palestinians preparing to fire an anti-tank missile and shot them, injuring two, the army said.