The Israeli army launched an air strike late Monday night targeting Hamas-run Gaza, the second of its kind this week in a three-day wave of military action.
The target was a car carrying a Palestinian driver, who had just taken a baby in a car to the hospital.
“We tried to go home,” the father told Al Jazeera, standing near his wrecked car, “but the Israeli air force attacked us from above.
We tried to flee, but we were stopped by the Israeli forces.
We were surrounded.”
The father, Mahmoud al-Abd al-Aziz, said his wife and three children were killed.
“The air force destroyed our home, but it’s not enough.
We want to return to our home in Gaza.”
In addition to the killing of the Palestinian driver and his three children, the Israeli military said it had killed two Hamas militants, two civilians, two Hamas fighters, and two Hamas commanders.
“It was an indiscriminate attack on civilians,” the Israeli defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, said.
“There was no intention to target a specific target.
It was not aimed at targeting civilians.”
The Israeli military launched its air campaign on Monday after Hamas militants fired a rocket at Tel Aviv and the surrounding area.
Israeli air strikes were initially aimed at an armed wing of the Hamas-affiliated group.
The operation, dubbed “Operation Protective Edge”, has been carried out to punish the group’s military wing for the deaths of more than 1,400 people since it began more than two months ago.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said the air strikes hit “Hamas facilities in the north and west of the Gaza strip”.
The IDF said the rocket fire from Gaza was aimed at the coastal enclave.
The Gaza Strip has been under Israeli bombardment since 2006.
In the past month, Israeli forces have carried out a series of raids targeting militants in Gaza, including firing missiles at homes and mosques.
The strikes have killed at least 70 Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers.
The latest attack comes on the eve of a visit by President Reuven Rivlin to the Palestinian territories.
The trip comes as the Palestinian Authority (PA) prepares for a unity government with Hamas, and as tensions between Israel and Hamas continue to escalate.
Earlier on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the country’s parliament that he wants a unity-free Gaza.
“This is not an agreement between us and Hamas, this is an agreement among Hamas, which wants to see the end of the occupation of Gaza,” he said.
The US has also expressed concerns about the military operation, with the US State Department saying it was not “appropriate for the president to take action unilaterally without congressional approval”.
The Israeli government has maintained that the attacks are necessary to “degrade” Hamas’ ability to launch rockets, while Hamas has argued that Israel has violated international law by launching attacks on the densely populated coastal enclave with no warning.
The United Nations said that it had seen a sharp increase in the number of rockets fired from Gaza since Monday.
The UN has called for an end to the military assault, which has been accompanied by a crackdown on the Hamas movement.
“For the past few days, we’ve seen a major escalation in rocket attacks from Gaza,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday.
“In addition to rockets being launched from Gaza, there have been multiple incidents of Israeli shelling of schools, residential areas and hospitals in Gaza,” said the UN official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“What’s happening in Gaza is intolerable.
We need an immediate cease-fire.”
Earlier on Sunday, Palestinian militants launched a rocket attack at the border fence between Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, causing damage to an Israeli army post.
The attack killed three soldiers and wounded eight others, the military said.
Earlier in the week, the IDF targeted three suspected Hamas operatives who had been travelling through Israel, but Israel later claimed the attack was a false flag operation.
The IDF also fired an artillery shell into southern Israel, which hit an open area and killed two people.