Ramallah, May 12, 2021—Israeli forces have killed at least four children in the Gaza Strip since Monday following an escalation of violence between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups.
Israeli airstrikes killed at least three Palestinian children on Tuesday afternoon and early Wednesday morning as Israel carried out hundreds of aerial attacks in densely-populated civilian areas across the Gaza Strip.
An Israeli warplane fired two missiles at a two-story home in Gaza City’s Al-Manara neighborhood yesterday around 4:30 p.m, completely destroying the residential building. The attack killed 15-year-old Lina Iyad Fathi Sharir and both of her parents, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. Lina’s two-year-old sister, Mina, sustained third-degree burns and remains in critical condition at Shifa Hospital.
An overnight Israeli airstrike in Gaza City killed two more Palestinian children. Around 1:30 a.m., an Israeli warplane targeted the third floor of the Salha residential building in Gaza City’s Tal Al-Hawa neighborhood, killing four-year-old Zaid Mohammad Odeh Talbani and 13-year-old Hala Hussein Rafat Rifi, according to documentation collected by DCIP. The attack also killed three adults including Zaid’s mother Rima Talbani, who was five months pregnant. Zaid’s sister, two-year-old Mariam remains missing and is presumed dead. Hala’s six-year-old sister, Rimas, and her father Hussein were also wounded in the airstrike.
“Israeli forces continue to exhibit near-complete disregard for international law, deploying explosive weapons and attacking densely-populated civilian areas in Gaza,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “As Palestinian children and families seek shelter from Israeli attacks, there is no safe space in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian children in Gaza increasingly bear the brunt of Israel’s repeated military offensives and a humanmade humanitarian crisis as a result of Israel’s closure policy toward the Gaza Strip.”
Israeli forces shot and killed 17-year-old Bashar Ahmad Ibrahim Samour this morning near the Gaza perimeter fence in Abasan Al-Jadida, east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. Israeli forces deployed on the opposite side of the perimeter fence shot and killed Bashar around 10 a.m. Bashar sustained two gunshot wounds to the right side of his chest, according to documentation collected by DCIP. He worked as a farmer and was connecting irrigation pipes about 500 meters (1640 feet) from the fence when he was shot and killed. Relatives working with him at the time transported him to a hospital in Khan Younis where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
DCIP has documented the killings of at least 13 Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip this week as violence between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups continues to escalate. DCIP staff continues to monitor and investigate other incidents throughout the Gaza Strip.
Nine Palestinian children were killed late Monday afternoon in three separate incidents in the northern Gaza Strip. An Israeli drone-fired missile killed 15-year-old Mohammad Saber Ibrahim Suleiman and his father shortly after 6 p.m. outside the city of Jabalia, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Father and son were both killed instantly.
In a second incident around 6:05 p.m., initial information suggests a homemade rocket fired by a Palestinian armed group fell short and killed eight Palestinians, including two children, Mustafa Mohammad Mahmoud Obaid, 16, and five-year-old Baraa Wisam Ahmad al-Gharabli who succumbed to his injuries later that evening.
Palestinian security sources and explosives experts indicated the cause of this explosion was a Palestinian armed group rocket that fell short. Another 34 Palestinian civilians were injured in the blast, including 10 children, according to DCIP’s documentation.
Six Palestinian children and two adults were killed in a third blast that occurred around 6 p.m. in Beit Hanoun about 800 meters (2,600 feet) west of the Gaza Strip perimeter fence. Those killed included Rahaf Mohammad Attalla al-Masri, 10, and her cousin Yazan Sultan Mohammad al-Masri, 2; brothers Marwan Yousef Attalla al-Masri, 6, and Ibrahim Yousef Attalla al-Masri, 11; as well as Hussein Muneer Hussein Hamad, 11, and 16-year-old Ibrahim Abdullah Mohammad Hassanain, according to information collected by DCIP. When the blast occurred, members of the al-Masri family were reportedly harvesting wheat in the field outside their home, and their children were playing nearby, according to information collected by DCIP.
DCIP has not yet confirmed the cause of these deaths. At the time of the incident, Israeli drones and warplanes were reportedly overhead and Palestinian armed groups were firing homemade rockets towards Israel. DCIP continues to investigate these incidents to determine and identify the responsible parties.
These latest incidents follow weeks of mounting tension as Israeli settlers, with Israeli government support, seek to expel hundreds of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinian-led protests against these planned expulsions have been met with state-sanctioned violence as Israeli police and paramilitary border police use excessive force against Palestinian protesters.
During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on April 13, Israeli authorities have restricted Palestinian access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site, and set up checkpoints at the Damascus Gate entrance to occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. On Saturday, Israeli authorities closed roads to Jerusalem and sought to prevent thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel from accessing and praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque on Laylat al-Qadr, the holiest night in the Muslim calendar.
On Monday, May 10, national religious Israelis marched through occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City celebrating Jerusalem Day, which commemorates Israel’s conquering of East Jerusalem in the 1967 War and its illegal annexation of the eastern part of the city. Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip began firing rockets at Israel during the march, and the Israeli military responded with aerial attacks striking several locations 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.
Israeli authorities have imposed a closure policy against 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.