The 230 Palestinians killed in the Israeli air raid on Gaza on Saturday included three senior Hamas officers: Tawfik Jabber, the commander of Hamas' police force in Gaza; his adjutant, Ismail al-Ja'abri, commander of the defense and security directorate; and Abu-Ahmad Ashur, Hamas' Gaza central district governor.

Twelve hours after the strike was launched Saturday morning, at least 230 people had been killed and 780 wounded, bringing hospital services to the brink of collapse.

Hamas has vowed harsh retaliation.

"The Israeli occupation needs to know that it has cast itself into the fire," said Abu Ubeida, spokesman for the organization's military wing, the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

The first three hours of the raid, which began in the late morning, were the most intensive, as waves of bombers swooped down over the coastal Strip.

Gazans told Haaretz by phone that drones were extensively used, and that F-16 fighter jets carried out strikes throughout the day and into the night.

Palestinian sources said the raids killed several civilians, along with Hamas police and military officers, and Arab television channels on Saturday showed images of battered bodies and body parts.

"I saw a family of nine people killed," freelance journalist and Haaretz photographer Sameh Habib told Haaretz.

Gaza's hospital morgues have reached capacity, medical sources said, forcing hospitals to use unrefrigerated rooms to hold bodies awaiting burial.

The wounded were also told to lie down in special waiting rooms, due to unusually long lines on the way to the operation rooms.