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As Gaza Death Toll Rises, EU Condemns Israeli Killing of Civilians, Hamas Rockets

Palestinian mourners carry the bodies of members of the Kawareh family, four of whom-- including two children-- were killed in an Israeli bombing attack on Gaza. (Photo: WAFA)

Palestinian mourners carry the bodies of members of the Kawareh family, four of whom– including two children– were killed in an Israeli bombing attack on Gaza. (Photo: WAFA)

As Israel escalates its bombing campaign against Islamic militants in Gaza, the number of innocent Palestinian civilians killed continues to rise, drawing sharp rebuke from the European Union.

As attacks between Israeli forces and Islamic resistance fighters in Gaza mount, reaching their worst levels since 2012, Israel’s aerial assault has now killed at least 52 people, the Washington Post reports. Among these, at least 13 are children under the age of 16.

Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in response to increased rockets launched against its cities and towns by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant resistance groups. The current flare-up began after three Israeli teenagers were abducted and murdered, presumably by Hamas militants, and a Palestinian teen was kidnapped and burned to death by suspected Jewish extremists in retaliation.

Hundreds of rockets have since rained down on Israel, some of them as far north as Haifa, which is located 140 km (88 miles) from Gaza. Israel has responded with air and sea attacks against Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on earth.

No Israelis have been killed or seriously wounded by any of the mostly crude rockets, most of which have been intercepted and shot down by Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome missile defense system. Israeli officials claim 90 percent of the rockets have been destroyed in flight.

The European Union has condemned “the indiscriminate [rocket] fire into Israel by militant groups in the Gaza strip.” A statement from EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also slammed Israel’s slaughter of innocent civilians in Gaza.

“The EU deplores the growing number of civilian casualties, reportedly among them children, caused by Israeli retaliatory fire,” the statement read. “The safety and security of all civilians must be of paramount importance.”

Entire families have been devastated. One family of five was killed in a strike. Multiple strikes claimed both mothers and their children. The youngest victim is a 1-year-old baby. The oldest is an 80-year-old woman. Some of the victims were literally blown to bits.

Among the innocent Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli bombs are:

Seraj Ayad Abed al A-al, age 8
Mohammed Ayman Ashour, age 15
Hussein Yusef Kawareh, age 13
Bassim Salim Kawareh, age 10
Mousa Habib, age 16
Ahmad Na’el Mehdi, age 16
Fawzia Khalil Hamad, age 62
Dunia Mehdi Hamad, age 16
Suha Hamad, age 25
Naifeh Farjallah, age 80
Abdelnasser Abu Kweek, age 60
Amir Areef, age 13
Mohammed Malkiyeh, age 1
Amniyeh Malikyeh, age 27
Sahar Hamdan, age 40
Ibrahim Masri, age 14
Sumoud al-Nawasra, age unknown
Mohammed Khalaf al-Nawasra, age 4
Nidal Khalaf al-Nawasra, child of unknown age
Ranim Jawde Abdel Ghafour, a young girl

This is but a partial list of the dead.

As Israel stepped up its bombing campaign against Gaza on Wednesday, Israeli leaders signaled that an extended ground invasion could be approaching.

“The Army is ready for all possibilities,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following a meeting with his Security Cabinet. “Hamas will pay a heavy price for firing toward Israeli civilians. The security of Israel’s citizens comes first. The operation will expand and continue until the fire toward our towns stops and quiet returns.”

Former Israeli ambassador to Germany Avi Primor told Deutsche Welle that while Netanyahu, along with Israeli military and intelligence leaders, wishes to avoid a ground offensive in Gaza, right-wing hardliners such as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who has boasted about “killing lots of Arabs,” have hijacked Netanyahu’s Likud party.

“These are fanatics who are not intent on a political solution,” said Primor. “Moderates have been pushed out of the party.”

Egypt, which has traditionally served as a moderator between Israel and Palestine, said it was in contact with both sides.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama urged both sides to show restraint.

“At this time of danger, everyone involved must protect the innocent and act in a sensible and measured way, not with revenge and retaliation,” Obama wrote in a guest column in the German paper Die Zeit.

Meanwhile, the innocent continue to be killed in Gaza.

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