Ramallah, November 14, 2019–Five Palestinian children were killed early Thursday in the central Gaza Strip as Israeli forces continued to carry out attacks. Israel’s military offensive on the Gaza Strip this week has killed at least eight children according to DCIP documentation.
Israeli airstrikes on a residential building in Deir Al-Balah shortly after midnight killed five children ranging in age from 15 months to 13 years old. Brothers Muath Mohammad Salem Sawarka, 7, and Wasim Mohammad Salem Sawarka, 13, were killed along with their mother, Yousra. Their cousins Firas Rasmi Salem Sawarka, 15 months, Salem Rasmi Salem Sawarka, 2, and Muhannad Rasmi Salem Sawarka, 12, as well as their parents, Rasmi and Mariam, were killed in the attack, according to DCIP documentation.
“Over the course of several military offensives, Israeli forces have repeatedly targeted residential and civilian buildings, killing entire Palestinian families, including children,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program Director at DCIP. “As long as the international community fails to hold Israel accountable for ongoing and repeated war crimes, we can only expect to continue seeing children’s lifeless bodies being pulled from the rubble of their homes.”
Rescue workers were on the scene immediately after the shelling, and initially recovered six bodies and 13 wounded from the rubble of the two homes. It took responders hours to dig through the rubble, and Firas and Salem’s bodies were recovered around 7 a.m., according to DCIP sources.
Rasmi Abu Malhous - also known as Rasmi Sawarka - a leader of the Palestinian armed group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, was identified as the target of the strike, according to news media reports. The attack occurred amid a three-day escalation of violence and hours before a ceasefire took effect.
This recent escalation began after Israeli forces killed another Palestinian armed group leader, Bahaa Abu al-Ata and his wife, Asmaa, early on Tuesday morning. In response, Palestinian armed groups launched hundreds of rockets from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, according to Israeli news reports.
Israeli forces killed three children in two separate weaponized aerial drone attacks in Gaza City on Wednesday. Over a three-day period, Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 34 Palestinians and injured 111, including 46 children, according to data issued by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza.
Israeli forces have killed at least 27 Palestinian children this year, including 22 children in the Gaza Strip.
International humanitarian law prohibits indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks and requires all parties to an armed conflict to 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.
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.