The Palestinian cabinet has declared a state of emergency following an Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip that has killed 42 Palestinians since Thursday.

In an emergency session Saturday, members of the cabinet called on international backers of the so-called "road map" peace plan to intervene immediately.

Shops in the West Bank and Gaza Strip closed for the day to protest the attacks. And Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia has postponed a trip to Moscow Sunday.

A spokesman for the Hamas militant group told Al Arabiya television that because the international community has not stepped in, Palestinians must defend themselves through rocket attacks on Israeli targets.

Earlier Saturday, Israeli military officials said at least seven Palestinian militants had been killed in clashes in and near the northern Gaza Strip.