GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Palestinian militants fired more than 30 rockets at southern Israel on Saturday and Israeli warplanes killed five militants in the Gaza Strip in the most intense fighting since Israel's 2008-2009 offensive in the Hamas-ruled territory.
The escalating series of strikes and counterstrikes has killed 18 Gazans since it began on Thursday following a Hamas missile attack against an Israeli school bus. The continuing clashes are increasing the probability of a full-scale military confrontation.
Israeli officials said the airstrikes would continue as long as the rocket attacks persist. Hamas officials insisted they were trying to restore quiet, but said they were prepared to fight.
"Hamas will not stand idle in front of this escalation," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said. "We have exercised a limited response so far, but we warn the occupation against continuing with their crimes."
Gaza militants fired more than 30 Grad-style Katyusha rockets and more than 10 mortar shells into Israel Saturday in what Israeli police said was the biggest single-day bombardment since the Gaza war.
There were no reports of injuries, but damage was caused.