GAZA/jerusalem - Israeli air strikes killed at least nine Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and militants kept up cross-border rocket fire on Monday as Israel moved to cushion its economy against the effects of a war now in its seventh week.

Egypt pressed on with efforts to broker a durable truce, and the Bank of Israel, fearing the conflict would slow economic growth, cut its benchmark interest rate by a quarter-point to 0.25 percent, its lowest level ever.

Gazans said they received new recorded messages on mobile phones and landlines saying Israel would target any house used to launch “terror attacks” and telling civilians to leave areas used by militants.

Israeli aircraft attacked four homes in the town of Beit Lahiya, near the Israeli border, killing two women and a girl, witnesses and health officials said.

Locals told Reuters a member of the Hamas militant group that dominates Gaza lived in one of the dwellings. Six other Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes, including three men in an attack on a car and a Gaza journalist identified as Abdallah Murtaja in a separate attack, officials said.

After nightfall an Israeli air strike outside a Gaza City mosque wounded 25 people, as worshippers filed out after evening prayers, Gaza health officials said.

More than 100 rockets were launched at southern Israel on Monday, and one Israeli was wounded by a mortar bomb, the army said.

Palestinian health officials say 2,123 people, most of them civilians, including more than 490 children, have been killed in Gaza since July 8, when Israel launched an offensive with the declared aim of ending rocket fire into its territory.

Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and four civilians in Israel have been killed.

Hamas claimed responsibility for firing rockets at Tel Aviv, at least one of which was shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome interceptor. Warning sirens were also heard in Israeli communities bordering on Ben-Gurion International Airport. Gazans said they had received messages on their phones for several days, with a new recording on Monday ending with the words: “To Hamas leaders and to the residents of Gaza: The battle is open and you have been warned.” Despite the raging violence, there were signs that the sides might be edging toward a new ceasefire.

Qais Abu Leila, a senior Palestinian official involved in Egyptian-mediated talks to reach a truce, said Cairo had proposed an indefinite ceasefire.

Cairo’s latest initiative calls for the immediate opening of Gaza’s crossings with Israel and Egypt to aid reconstruction efforts in the battered coastal strip, to be followed by talks on a longer-term easing of the blockade. Hamas and Israel blamed each other for delaying agreement.  An Israeli official speaking on condition of anonymity said Israel would consider the proposal if Hamas were to accept it.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said of Egypt’s proposals that “if Israel agreed to it, we would be heading towards an agreement.”

Abu Leila told Reuters, “Egyptian efforts are continuing. The ball is in the Israeli court, and they have not responded to this proposal 36 hours after it was referred to them.”

Hamas has said it will not stop fighting until the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the enclave of 1.8 million people is lifted.

Both Israel and Egypt view Hamas as a security threat and are demanding guarantees that weapons will not enter the economically-crippled territory. Israel recalled its negotiators from Cairo last Tuesday after a ceasefire collapsed.

Announcing its surprise interest rate cut, the Bank of Israel said it was too soon to assess precisely the loss of economic growth that will derive from the fighting.

But it said the war could shave half a point off GDP, which is forecast at 2.9 percent in 2014, as tourism and consumer spending are hit.

In Gaza City on Sunday, an Israeli strike on a car killed Mohammed al-Ghoul, described by the Israeli military as a Hamas official responsible for “terror fund transactions”.

Israel later bombed and destroyed Ghoul’s house. He was targeted three days after Israel killed three top Hamas commanders in the southern Gaza Strip.

Thousands of homes in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed or damaged in the conflict. Nearly 500,000 people have been displaced in the territory where Palestinians, citing Israeli attacks that have hit schools and mosques, say no place is safe.

Israel has said Hamas bears responsibility for civilian casualties because it operates among non-combatants. The group, it said, uses schools and mosques to store weapons and as launching sites for cross-border rocket attacks. (Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta and Noah Browning in Ramallah, Allyn Fisher-Ilan and Steven Scheer in Jerusalem; Writing by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

But Israeli Science Minister Yaakov Peri, an observer at the security cabinet and former head of the Shin Bet internal security agency, said if the rocket fire stopped, it was likely talks would resume, although probably not immediately. "I don't think it will be a matter of a few hours," he told army radio. "I think this time Israel will try to make sure over several more hours or a day that the ceasefire is holding."  "If a ceasefire ... sticks, there is a good chance that the prime minister will instruct the delegation to return to the talks in Cairo," he said in a separate interview with public radio.

"Generally, we will agree to open the crossings," he said, referring to Erez and the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing for humanitarian aid, which Israel was "also willing to increase".

Regarding Gaza's Rafah crossing with Egypt, "that is a decision for the Egyptians," although Israel would support the deployment of Palestinian Authority security personnel at the terminal, he said, defining the shape of an initial arrangement.

But a more comprehensive deal - with Israel facilitating the reconstruction of Gaza in exchange for its demilitarisation - was "far off", he said.

The invitation to new truce talks came after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas on Saturday.

Egypt has repeatedly urged all parties to accept an open-ended truce and return to the negotiating table in Cairo.

Abbas is expected to convene a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday, a Palestinian official said without elaborating.

Previous temporary ceasefires have failed to produce agreement, although back-to-back extensions have given millions of people periods of relief from incessant bombardment and rocket fire.

Hamas, the de facto authority in Gaza, says any truce must provide for a lifting of Israel's crippling eight-year blockade and the opening of a seaport and airport, while Israel has demanded Gaza be demilitarised.

Senior Palestine Liberation Organisation official Wasel Abu Yusef told AFP the Palestinian leadership is to demand the UN Security Council set a deadline for ending the Israeli occupation.

Such a move would likely be vetoed by the United States which traditionally opposes any step perceived as anti-Israeli at the Security Council.

In the northern West Bank, a 14-year-old Palestinian died of wounds sustained Friday in clashes during a protest against the Gaza war. At least 20 Palestinians have been killed during such protests since July 8, UN figures show.

Elsewhere, Iran said it would "accelerate" moves to arm West Bank Palestinians, a day after claiming it had shot down an Israeli drone above one of its uranium enrichment site.