Children among the dead as Israel kills three Islamic Jihad commanders in targeted Gaza strikes

Young children are among the dead after Israel bombed the Gaza Strip overnight in the targeted killing of three senior commanders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group.

Various sites linked to the organisation were also taken out, including a rocket factory and a facility to produce concrete for tunnels.

At least 13 people were killed and 20 injured, according to the latest figures from the Palestinian health ministry.

Islamic Jihad said the dead also include the wives and some of the children of the three commanders.

A spokesman for the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) described the targets as "kingpin terrorists" and said they were "aware of some collateral" in reference to civilian deaths.

Forty aircraft were used in the operation, which started just after 2am and has been named "Shield and Arrow".

"It was a convergence of intelligence, timing and weather," a military spokesperson said.

Air strikes continued into the early hours and targeted militant training sites, as well as the top floor of an apartment building in Gaza City and a house in the southern city of Rafah.

Roads were closed in Israeli towns near Gaza, with residents urged to keep close to bomb shelters, with Israel saying it was calling up some military reservists.

Images on social media showed iron dome rocket interceptor batteries being trucked to the front.

Tel Aviv has opened public bomb shelters tonight in anticipation of a response from Gaza, with an Israeli defence minister saying "the campaign isn't over" and they are ready "for any scenario".

The prospect of any escalation depends on whether Gaza's ruling Hamas militants take part, as they did in a 2021 war.

In a bid to deter them, Israeli security cabinet minister Israel Katz told Tel Aviv radio station 103 FM that Hamas leaders may be targeted for assassination.

The IDF confirmed that the commanders killed were Khalil Bahitini, who ran PIJ operations in northern Gaza, Tarek Azaldin who allegedly coordinated attacks in the West Bank from Gaza and Jahed Ahman, a senior figure in the group's military council.

The funerals are expected to take place on Tuesday morning.

Some children of the commanders who were killed in the blasts have been named as Hajar Al Bihtini, Mayar Izz el Din and Ali Izz El Din.

The UK government has condemned the outcome of the Israeli attacks on Gaza overnight, as have other governments, with Lord Tariq Ahmed of Wimbledon describing the reports of civilian and children deaths as "tragic".

Gaza's ruling Hamas group leader, Ismail Haniyeh, warned that Israel will "pay the price" for the killings.

"Assassinating the leaders with a treacherous operation will not bring security to the occupier, but rather more resistance," he said in a statement.

Israel is readying itself for a response - schools near the Gaza border will be closed today, residents have been ordered to remain close to bomb shelters and the approval has been given for some villages to be evacuated.

Outdoor gatherings have been banned and the Erez crossing point between Gaza and Israel closed.

Reservists have been put on standby and Israel's Home Command is ready for further action.

The strikes came as a surprise, and Islamic Jihad is yet to respond, but it follows a brief but intense 24-hour period last week when nearly three dozen rockets were fired towards Israel following the death of a high-profile Palestinian from hunger strike in jail.