Palestinian witnesses say an Israeli airstrike on a car carrying militants in Gaza City has killed three nearby children and wounded 14 other people.

Witnesses say occupants of the car jumped out before Israeli missiles hit the vehicle Tuesday.

Palestinians say the dead children were bystanders.

The Israeli military confirmed the strike and said the car was carrying militants with the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction.  Israel says al-Aqsa militants have been involved in attacks on the Jewish state.

Meanwhile, residents of the Israeli town of Sderot staged protests to demand a stronger Israeli response to rocket attacks from Gaza by Palestinian militants.  Israeli officials say Palestinian militants have fired about 130 rockets at Sderot in the past 10 days. 

Today's Israeli airstrike came hours after Mr. Abbas urged militants to cease firing rockets or bear the responsibility for destruction as a result of what he called Israeli aggression.

In other news, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Mr. Abbas are expected to meet at an international gathering in Jordan this week.  Jordanian officials say the two will attend a breakfast Thursday hosted by Jordan's King Abdullah as part of a forum for Nobel laureates in Petra.

It would be the first meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders since Mr. Olmert took office last month, but it is not clear how the latest violence might affect the planned meeting.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.