GAZA CITY (AFP/Reuters) – Israeli strikes on Sunday killed 23 Palestinians including 14 women and children in the bloodiest day of its Gaza bombing campaign, the health ministry said.

Nine children, five of them babies and toddlers, and five women were among the victims in violence that raised the overall number of Gazans killed to 69 in around 100 hours of relentless Israeli air strikes.

The attacks came as diplomatic efforts intensified to broker an end to the bloodshed which began on Wednesday and has also cost the lives of three Israelis and injured more than 50, according to medical sources.

By far the bloodiest strike was in northern Gaza City where a missile levelled a three-storey building, killing nine members of the Al-Dallu family, five of them children, and two other people, medics said. Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra named the dead as policeman Mohammed al-Dallu, 35, Suheila al-Dallu, 50, Samah al-Dallu, 22, and five children: Jamal and Sara, whose ages were not immediately available, five-year-old Yussef, two-year-old Ranin, and 11-month-old Ibrahim.

The body of another woman from the same family was also pulled from the rubble but her identity was not immediately clear.

The other two victims, who lived next door, were named as Amina Mattar al-Muzzana, 83, and Abdullah Mohammed al-Muzzana, 22, Qudra said.

The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the strike, saying only that the air force had hit “a few targets in northern Gaza City”.

Shortly afterwards, six more Palestinians were killed in four separate strikes — two in Gaza City, one on the Jabaliya refugee camp and one on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

In Gaza City, Sami al-Ghafir was killed in a raid on the eastern Shejaiya neighbourhood, and Mohammed al-Awf was killed in the north of the city.

The strike on Jabaliya killed Suheil Hamada and his son Moamin as they were driving a water delivery truck through the camp.

And an early-evening strike on Nuseirat killed two men, Aatiya Mubarak and Hossam Abu Shawish, the emergency services said.

Earlier strikes across the strip killed six more Palestinians, four of them children.

At around 2:00 am (0000 GMT) strikes on the northern town of Beit Hanun killed two toddlers, three-year-old Tamer Abu Saeyfan and his one-year-old sister Jumana.

Several hours later, 18-month-old Iyyad Abu Khusa was killed in a strike east of Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. His two brothers, aged four and five, were critically wounded in the raid, Qudra said.

Medics later reported finding under the rubble of a house in eastern Gaza City the body of a woman who had been killed in a strike earlier in the morning. They named her as Nawal Abdelaal, 52.

And in the late morning an air strike on a small house in the beachfront Shati refugee camp in Gaza City killed 13-year-old Tasneem al-Nahal and Ahmad al-Nahal, 25, both from the same family.

The bloodshed has killed 69 Palestinians and injured more than 600 since an Israeli air strike which killed a top Hamas militant kicked off the Jewish state’s military campaign against Gaza.

Three Israelis have been killed and more than 50 injured, a spokesman for the Magen David Adom emergency services told AFP.

The army said 10 of them were soldiers, one of whom was severely hurt.

On Sunday, nine people were injured by rockets in southern Israel, one of them seriously and two moderately.

So far, the military says it has struck more than 1,132 targets in the Gaza Strip, without saying how many strikes it had carried out.

In the same period, 544 rockets fired by Gaza militants have stuck southern Israel, and another 302 have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system.

Israel is also preparing for a possible ground invasion while spelling out its conditions for a truce.

With Egypt at the centre of efforts to broker a ceasefire, Palestinian officials said it was possible a deal would be reached “today or tomorrow.”

Israeli aircraft also hit two media centres in Gaza City on Sunday, wounding at least eight journalists, one of whom lost a leg, health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP.

The Gaza-based offices of a Kremlin-funded international Russian TV broadcaster were severely damaged Sunday in an Israeli raid on two buildings housing Palestinian and other media outlets, the station said.

The Israeli army confirmed attacking the Shuruq centre in Gaza City in an attempt to interrupt what it said was Hamas “operational communications” from the building.

The raid completely destroyed the offices of Al-Aqsa TV, a Hamas-affiliated television station.

Russia Today’s Gaza correspondent said his office was separated by only a “thin wall” from Al-Aqsa TV’s office and was damaged in the attack.

The military defended the strike, saying it had targeted Hamas operational communications and sought to minimise civilian casualties.

With international opinion veering away from an escalation, US President Barack Obama said on Sunday it was “preferable” for the Gaza crisis to end without a “ramping up” of Israeli military activity.

“Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory,” Obama said in Thailand. “If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that is preferable.”

In Cairo, senior Hamas officials said Egyptian-mediated talks with Israel to end the conflict were “positive” but now focused on the possible stumbling block of guaranteeing the terms of a truce.

An outcome acceptable to Hamas would be assurances by the United States, Israel’s main backer, to be the “guaranteeing party,” one official said on condition of anonymity.

Security officials in Cairo said an Israeli envoy also arrived in Cairo on Sunday for Egyptian-mediated truce talks with Hamas.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, meanwhile, insisted that “the first and absolute condition for a truce is stopping all fire from Gaza,” and that all armed groups would have to commit to it.

Earlier, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel was ready to “significantly expand” its operation against Gaza fighters even as he prepared to receive French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is on a whirlwind truce mission to the region.

In scenes recalling Israel’s 2008-2009 winter invasion of the Gaza Strip, tanks, artillery and infantry massed in field encampments along the sandy border. Military convoys moved on roads in the area newly closed to civilian traffic.

“We are extracting a heavy price from Hamas and the terror organisations,” Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting. “The army is prepared to significantly expand the operation.”

Netanyahu said he was holding ongoing talks with world leaders, “and we appreciate their understanding of Israel’s right to self-defence,” as thousands of Israeli troops massed along the Gaza border.

But British Foreign Secretary William Hague pressed Israel not to escalate the conflict by sending ground troops into the Hamas-run Palestinian territory.

“The prime minister (David Cameron) and I have both stressed to our Israeli counterparts that a ground invasion of Gaza would lose Israel a lot of the international support and sympathy that they have in this situation,” he said.

An Israeli official landed in Cairo on Sunday for Egypt-mediated truce talks with Hamas to end the Gaza conflict, Egyptian security officials said.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas meanwhile called for Palestinians to stage peaceful demonstrations against Israel’s military offensive on Gaza militant groups.

“I call on the Palestinian people to intensify their peaceful demonstrations in the streets against the Israeli aggression in Gaza,” he said at a meeting with the Palestinian leadership.

Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority rules the West Bank but not the Gaza Strip which was taken over by Hamas in 2007, also called for an urgent meeting of the Palestine Liberation Operation (PLO), Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders.

“The aggression is aimed at all of the Palestinian people,” he said in a televised speech on Friday. “Not only at Hamas or the Islamic Jihad.”