Scores of Palestinians flocked to the home of Hamas militant Wael Rajab in Beit Lahiya amid reports of an imminent Israeli air strike.
Women, some clutching children, gathered on the roof of the house to act as human shields.
The human shields are exploiting Israel's recently introduced policy of telephoning residents shortly before an impending attack, in order to give them time to escape.
Scores of homes linked to militants have been destroyed in Israel air strikes, but Palestinians believe they can now foil such attacks.
Israel says it will not be deterred from its tactics of targeting militants.