Ramallah, March 16, 2016—Israeli forces carried out a predawn airstrike on the Gaza Strip on March 12 that killed two Palestinian children, Isra and Yassin Abu Khussa, and injured a third child from the same family.
At approximately 2:20 a.m., three Israeli F-16 missiles targeted training sites for Palestinian armed groups in Beit Lahia in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. At the moment of the bombing, the Abu Khussa family were asleep in their house located nearly 100 meters (328 feet) northeast of the training sites. Shrapnel and rocks destroyed the house’s roof, leading to the death of Yassin, a 9-year-old boy. Yassin’s siblings Isra, 6, and Ayoub, 12, also sustained head injuries and were transferred to Shifa Hospital. Around 2:30 p.m., doctors pronounced Isra dead from her wounds.
“I woke up to the sound of the bombing and my wife screaming, ‘The children died!’” Salman Abu Khussa told Defense for Children International – Palestine. “When I arrived in the children’s room, three of my children were on the ground, injured. There was blood everywhere, and the others were screaming.”
According to Israeli officials, the airstrike was a response to rocket fire from Gaza that landed in open areas in southern Israel on Friday night, without causing any casualties.
Yassin and Isra’s deaths raised the number of fatalities among Palestinian children from the Gaza Strip to four in the last six months. On October 11, a toddler and her pregnant mother died when their house collapsed during a predawn Israeli airstrike. Their death came on the heels of a 10-year-old shot and killed by Israeli soldier at a protest near Gaza’s border with Israel.
Also in March, Israeli forces opened fire in range of Beit Dajan Elementary School ‘A’, east of Gaza City, while 500 students were in attendance. On March 2, at around 2 p.m., a stray bullet shattered a third-floor classroom window, ripped through the curtains, and lodged in a wall, just above the blackboard. None of the 33 students present in the classroom was injured.
The Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education condemned the shooting.
The school is located nearly 600 meters (1,970 feet) away from the border fence with Israel. There are no known training sites for Palestinian armed groups in the vicinity of the school’s premises and no other buildings between the school and the Israeli border.
Since Israel’s 50-day assault on Gaza in 2014, which claimed the lives of 547 children, 535 of which died as a direct result of Israeli attacks, not a single perpetrator has been held accountable for these fatalities.
“Gazan children are too often casualties of the Israeli military’s actions,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP. “International bodies must take meaningful action to bring about accountability for this growing toll of child fatalities.”