JULY 17 UPDATE: Death toll of children rises as Israel pummels Gaza

Ramallah, July 17, 2014—Eight children in Gaza were killed on Wednesday, including four boys directly targeted by the Israeli navy while playing on the beach in Gaza City. Israel's military offensive on the Gaza Strip has killed at least 45 children according to DCI-Palestine documentation.

Zakariya Ahed Subhi Baker, 10, Ahed Atef Ahed Baker, 9, Ismail Mohammad Subhi Baker, 9, and Mohammad Ramez Ezzat Baker, 11, were cousins from fishermen families, and had been playing on Gaza City’s harbor when two missiles hit them just after 4 pm. Accounts and photos from the event have been widely shared, detailing an initial explosion near a shack that killed one of the boys, and a second that targeted the other boys as they ran toward the beach. DCI-Palestine sources confirmed that the boys were dead on arrival at Al-Shifa Hospital.

"Israeli forces continue to target and kill children and civilians on a daily basis, making Israeli military statements claiming that these deaths are tragic mistakes simply meaningless," said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine. "The death toll among children now stands at its highest point in five years."

In Khan Younis in southern Gaza, 9-year-old Ibrahim Ramadan Hasan Abu Daqqa was killed with his grandmother and older brother in a drone attack that targeted a taxi they were riding in. Ibrahim was returning from a visit to his brother, in hospital as the result of a previous Israeli strike. Also in Khan Younis, 4-year-old Yasmeen Mahmoud Hussein al-Astal and her brother Osama, 8, died after sustaining wounds in an explosion caused by a nearby drone strike.

In Beit Lahia, Hamzi Raed Mohammad Thari, 6, was killed as he prayed with his father. Two missiles targeted a nearby mosque, the second injuring them as they tried to flee. Hamzi succumbed to his wounds two hours later in hospital.

At least 45 children have died as a result of Israel’s nine-day bombardment of the Gaza Strip. The death of the four boys has prompted widespread international criticism at the extent of loss to civilian life, and particularly the death toll among children. According to information released by the UN, 77 percent of fatalities have been civilians. The incident also prompted a five-hour "humanitarian ceasefire."

A statement released by the Israeli authorities said: "Based on preliminary results, the target of this strike was Hamas terrorist operatives. The reported civilian casualties from this strike are a tragic outcome." The statement went on to blame Hamas for placing civilians in the line of fire. It also claimed that the children were mistaken for fleeing fighters, though witness accounts indicate that the children could be clearly identified from a distance.

The death toll - 45 and rising - is now at its highest since Israel’s December 2008 military incursion, Operation Cast Lead, which resulted in the deaths of 352 children.


TUESDAY UPDATE: Death toll of children rises as Israel pummels Gaza

Ramallah, July 15, 2014—Child deaths continued to rise on the eighth consecutive day of Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, with three more confirmed killings bringing the total number of children killed in the onslaught to 37. Two three-year-olds and one 17-year-old were confirmed as having died in areas across Gaza.

One child, 3-year-old Yasmin Mohammad Yousef al-Motawaq from Jabalia in northern Gaza, was confirmed as having died on July 9 from injuries sustained during an Israeli bombardment of nearby agricultural land. Sheltering with her family in the house, Yasmin was struck by a bed that fell on her as a result of the explosion, leading to her death in hospital.

Ziyad Maher Mohammad al-Najar, 17, from Khan Younis in southern Gaza, was pronounced dead on July 14 after a drone targeted him twice as he was traveling to his grandfather’s home by motorbike. The second missile hit him directly, killing him instantly.

Sarah Omar Ahmad Shaikh al-Eid, 3, was playing with her father and uncle in the family’s garden on July 14 when their home was targeted by an Israeli airstrike. Sarah was fatally wounded by shrapnel, and was pronounced dead upon arrival at hospital.


MONDAY UPDATE: Death toll of children rises as Israel pummels Gaza

Ramallah, July 14, 2014—Two children died on Sunday in a day of conflict that saw still more Palestinian civilians killed in Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza. The children, ages 2 and 15, bring the latest death toll to 34.

In Jabalia refugee camp, 15-year-old Husam Ibrahim Shehda al-Najar died when an Israeli drone targeted his family’s home in the night, while he slept. The missile landed directly in his room, killing him instantly.

In the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, Muayyad Khaled Ali al-Araj, 2, was killed when a drone missile targeted a nearby building, scattering shrapnel that struck him in the body and head and led to his death in hospital two hours later.

The international community has accused Israel of failing to adequately protect civilians over the course of a week that has seen the death toll rise to over 120 people. The Israeli air force has continually fired missiles into crowded residential areas, and this week reportedly targeted a hospital.

“The targeting of the Wafa Hospital and its severely ill patients, including children, in Gaza is a war crime, as hospitals are presumed not to be legitimate targets under international humanitarian law,” said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine. “Even if a hospital is used for military purposes as Israeli officials claim, Israeli forces are still prohibited from carrying out an attack.”

Israeli air strikes continue to take place as the operation enters its second week. Israel has massed large numbers of ground troops on the Gaza border in preparation for a ground invasion.


SUNDAY UPDATE: Death toll of children rises as Israel pummels Gaza

Ramallah, July 13, 2014—Nine children were confirmed dead in Israeli strikes on Friday and Saturday, bringing the total number of children killed in Israel’s ongoing aerial onslaught to 32. Saher Salman Ali Abu Namous, 3, from Tel Zatar in northern Gaza, Anas Yousef Ahmad Qandeel, 17, from Jabalia refugee camp, and Safa Mustafa Jamal Malaka, 7, from Zaitoun in Gaza City, as well as six children from the al-Batsh family, were all killed in air strikes that occurred on Friday and Saturday.

The six al-Batsh children died together in an attack that targeted their home in the Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza City. Seventeen people from the family were killed in the explosion, including Qusai Isam Subhi al-Batsh, 12, his brothers Anas, 10, Mohammad and Yahia, both 17, and his cousins Manar, 13, and Amal, 1.

Saher was killed when he was hit by shrapnel from an explosion that took place as his father prepared to take him to the mosque on Friday afternoon. The explosion was caused by a missile launched from a drone targeting a nearby plot of farmland.

Anas died when a drone targeted an area where he was sitting with his friends and family in the early hours of Saturday morning. Safa died as a result of injuries sustained during an air strike that targeted her family’s house on Wednesday morning.


SATURDAY UPDATE: Death toll of children rises as Israel pummels Gaza

Ramallah, July 12, 2014—Two more children brought the verified death toll to 23 this week, after DCI-Palestine confirmed the killings of Fatima Mahmoud Lutfi al-Haj, 14, and her brother Saed, 16, on Thursday July 10 in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis.

The children died when their home was targeted by an Israeli airstrike while the family was sleeping at 1.15 am. Six other family members, all adults, died in the bombing, including Fatima and Saed’s parents. The family is survived by two adult children, both of whom were away from the house at the time of the strike. One has been hospitalized in a state of shock.

The strike was not preceded by a so-called “knock on the roof” warning, which Israel has claimed it uses to warn civilians to leave buildings being targeted. Instead, the family’s house was flattened immediately.

The rapidly rising civilian death toll has sparked concern among senior UN officials, who on Friday appealed to all sides to abide by obligations to protect civilians. Operation Protective Edge has now resulted in at least 120 Palestinian deaths. No Israeli deaths have been confirmed, though some Israelis have reportedly sustained injuries.

Efforts by the international community to de-escalate the conflict this week have so far failed, with the Israeli air force striking over 750 targets since Tuesday, as well as calling up 20,000 reservists. Hamas have fired over 180 rockets into Israel, according to The New York Times.

Israeli authorities maintain that they are targeting Hamas militants who are hiding among civilians.


FRIDAY UPDATE: Death toll of children rises as Israel pummels Gaza

Ramallah, July 11, 2014—A further three children were confirmed dead today, bringing the total number of Gaza children killed this week to 21. The children died in a week that has seen the Israeli air force drop hundreds of missiles into crowded residential areas, killing and injuring large numbers of Palestinian civilians.

On Wednesday, July 9, DCI-Palestine confirmed the deaths of seven children as a result of Israeli airstrikes. Today, Mariam Atiya Mohammad al-Arja, 9, was also confirmed to have died on July 9 when her family’s home in the southern Gaza town of Rafah was targeted. Mariam sustained a head injury when the home collapsed on her and her family.

DCI-Palestine confirmed a further four deaths on Thursday, July 10. Abdul Rahman Bassam Abdul Rahman Khatab, 5, was confirmed as the fifth child killed on Thursday, struck in his lower torso by shrapnel that led to his immediate death. He had been at his uncle’s house in Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza.

Today, Nour Marwan Abdullah al-Najdi, 10, from Rafah, became the 21st child confirmed dead this week by DCI-Palestine. She was asleep when a rocket targeted a nearby house, causing the roof of her family’s home to collapse. She, too, died instantly.

Israel continues to drop missiles on Gaza, despite the large number of casualties sustained by children.


THURSDAY UPDATE: Death toll of children rises as Israel pummels Gaza

Ramallah, July 10, 2014—Child fatalities in Gaza continued to rise on Thursday with four more children killed in ongoing Israeli airstrikes. The Israeli assault has seen hundreds of missiles pummel the Gaza Strip, leading to high numbers of injuries and fatalities among civilians. Eighteen children are now confirmed dead.

Aseel Ibrahim Fayek al-Masri, 16, whose 14-year-old brother died in an attack on the family home in Beit Hanoun on Wednesday, died after sustaining injuries in the same incident.

Suleiman Salim Mousa al-Astal, 17, and Mousa Mohammad Taher al-Astal, 14, were killed after being hit by a missile as they sat watching the World Cup with friends on the beach overnight on Thursday. The two boys were among eight reported fatalities after an Israeli aircraft bombed the crowd of people watching the football game.

Abdullah Ramadan Jamil Abu Ghazal, 4, was with his mother in their home when he was hit by shrapnel fragments from an Israeli missile that exploded nearby. Abdullah died instantly when he sustained head injuries.


WEDNESDAY UPDATE: 14 children killed in Israeli airstrikes over Gaza

Ramallah, July 10, 2014—A further seven children, including four toddlers, died on Wednesday in Israeli air strikes on Gaza. Fourteen children have now been killed since Israel launched a major military offensive on the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. The children were all aged between 1 and 15 years old.

Israeli airstrikes hit hundreds of targets across the Gaza Strip throughout Wednesday. In the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, Mohammad Ibrahim Fayeq al-Masri, 14, died when his family home was targeted by the Israeli air force.

In Gaza City, two brothers, Mohammad Iyad Salem Areef, 9, and Amir, 11, were killed while playing in front of their home when a bomb hit Al-Shujaiyah neighborhood where they lived. Both died instantly of their wounds. In the Zeitoun neighborhood, a bomb killed Mohammad Fakher Mustafa Jamal Malaka, 3, and his mother.

A further two brothers from Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza died when their home was hit by an Israeli missile. Mohammad Khalaf Odeh al-Nawasra was just 1, and his brother Nidal only 3.

A 1-year-old girl, Ranim Jawdat Abdul-Karim Abdul-Ghafoor, died when a missile hit her home in a crowded residential area in Al-Qarara. She was killed immediately after sustaining a head injury.

The Israeli military said in a statement that it had targeted hundreds of sites in Gaza and killed three Islamic Jihad militants. "We aimed at 322 targets in Gaza overnight, taking to 750 the total number of Hamas targets hit by the army since the start of Operation Protective Edge," Lt Col Peter Lerner told reporters.

The Israeli air force has stated that deaths of children and civilians are not intentional, but claims that nothing can be done to prevent them. Speaking of one incident on Tuesday in which five children from the same family died, an officer said that children could be seen entering the house as it was being bombed.

“There was nothing to be done, the munition was in the air and could not be diverted,” a senior air force officer said. “Although you see [the family members] running back into the house, there was no way to divert the missile.”

DCI-Palestine is investigating the reported deaths of at least three other children in strikes on Wednesday.


Seven children killed in Israeli airstrikes over Gaza

Ramallah, July 9, 2014—Israel launched a major military offensive on the Gaza Strip Tuesday that killed at least seven Palestinian children and wounded dozens more in air and sea strikes.

Israeli forces killed six children when a missile struck the home of alleged Hamas activist Odeh Ahmad Mohammad Kaware in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. The five families that reside in the building evacuated immediately after an Israeli aerial drone fired a warning missile. A number of neighbors, however, gathered on the roof in an effort to prevent the bombing. Shortly after 3 p.m., an Israeli airstrike leveled the building, and killed seven people, including five children, on the spot and injured 28 others.

Hussein Yousef Hussein Karawe, 13, Basem Salem Hussein Karawe, 10, Mohammad Ali Faraj Karawe, 12, Abdullah Hamed Karawe, 6, and Kasem Jaber Adwan Karawe, 12, died immediately, according to evidence collected by Defense for Children International-Palestine. Seraj Abed al-Aal, 8, succumbed to his injuries later that evening.

DCI-Palestine confirmed one other Palestinian teenager died in strikes across Gaza. An Israeli attack killed Ahmad Nael Mahdi, 15, from Gaza City’s Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, and wounded two of his friends, one of which remains in critical condition.

DCI-Palestine is confirming reports of at least three other children killed in the strikes on Tuesday.

“The death and injury to children caused by Israel’s military offensive on Gaza demonstrates serious and extensive disregard of fundamental principles of international law,” said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine. “Israeli forces must not carry out indiscriminate airstrikes in densely populated areas that fail to distinguish between military targets, civilians and civilian objects.”

Since the beginning of Israel’s ongoing military offensive on Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, Israeli forces have launched at least 146 strikes on Gaza. The strikes have killed at least 25 Palestinians and injured more than 100 others, according to news reports.

International humanitarian law prohibits indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks and requires that all parties to an armed conflict distinguish between military targets, civilians and civilian objects. Israel as the occupying power in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the Gaza Strip, is required to protect the Palestinian civilian population from violence.

While Israel relies on the principle of self defense to justify military offensives on Gaza, Israeli forces are bound to customary international law rules of proportionality and necessity.

Hamas’ military wing claimed responsibility for firing around 120 rockets from Gaza into southern and central Israel, with some reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, according to Haaretz. Israel’s “Iron Dome” anti-missile system has reportedly intercepted at least 23 rockets. While minimal property damage has been reported, there have been no serious casualties.

The Israeli military has mobilized thousands of reserve soldiers in preparation for any further escalation, according to news reports.

Israel has imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip since 2007 by strictly controlling and limiting the entry and exit of individuals; maintaining harsh restrictions on imports including food, construction materials, fuel and other essential items; as well as prohibiting exports. Israel continues to maintain complete control over the Gaza Strip’s borders, airspace and territorial waters.

The last major Israeli military offensive on Gaza, Operation Pillar of Defense, occurred between November 14 and 21, 2012. During those eight days more than 30 Palestinian children died in Israeli military attacks.

Previously, Israeli forces launched a three-week intensive aerial and naval bombing campaign and ground invasion in the Gaza Strip, dubbed Operation Cast Lead, on December 27, 2008. At least 353 children were killed and a further 860 injured during the military offensive.

Both Israeli military offensives were characterized by disproportionate force directed at government and civilian infrastructure, residential neighborhoods, and individual civilians. The stated objective of each operation was to end rocket attacks into Israel by Palestinian armed groups.

CORRECTION: The article originally listed the death of Ahmad Mousa Habib, 16. This was removed from the alert when it was found that he was not under 18 years old.

The Washington Post posted a powerful raw video by the Associated Press (AP) that shows Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. The content of this video is graphic.