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8 Palestinian Children Killed as Bombs Hit Gaza Playground, Hospital

Victims of the Gaza playground attack. (Mohamad Asad/Arab Daily News)

Victims of the Gaza playground attack. (Mohamad Asad/Arab Daily News)

Eight children playing during the Eid al-Fitr holiday were among 10 Palestinians killed in a Monday bombing attack on a playground near a Gaza refugee camp.

Al Jazeera reports the children were playing on a swing in the park near the al-Shati refugee camp on the edge of Gaza City.

Palestine’s Maan News Agency reports more than 40 people were also injured in the playground bombing.

The children were dressed in holiday clothes to mark Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. Children are typically given gifts of candy and toys for the festive holiday.

Another strike hit the outpatient clinic of al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest, Agence France-Presse reports.

Thousands of terrified and traumatized Gaza residents have flocked to al-Shifa hospital seeking refuge from Israeli air, land and sea attacks which have killed 1,052 people, injured more than 6,000 and displaced 167,000 more since the war began on July 8. The majority of the dead are innocent civilians, including at least 210 children.

Witnesses reported an unmanned aerial drone launched a missile at the outpatient clinic. Palestinian officials suggested Israeli missiles had struck the sites, but an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman told reporters that rockets fired by resistance fighters in Gaza caused the civilian casualties.

“This incident was carried out by Gaza terrorists whose rockets fell short and hit the Shifa hospital and the Shati camp,” asserted Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.

IDF also tweeted it “has documented approximately 200 rockets and mortars that landed short within Gaza.”

Israeli officials also initially denied shelling a United Nations school, killing 17 refugees and wounding at least 200 others on Thursday in Beit Hanoun. But on Sunday, the Israeli army admitted firing the deadly mortar round into the courtyard of the school, which is being used as a UN shelter during the war.

Hamas has denied responsibility for the playground and clinic attacks. Israeli officials said they believe fighters from the militant resistance group Islamic Jihad are responsible. Hamas and other militants have launched thousands of rockets and mortar rounds into Israel, killing two Israeli civilians and a Thai farmer. More than 40 Israeli troops have been killed in combat in Gaza.

The Jerusalem Post reports at least four Israelis were killed and 10 others injured by Gaza-launched mortar fire in Eshkol on Monday. It was later reported that the dead were IDF troops.

Monday’s violence follows a 12-hour break in the fighting as international efforts to end the three-week war continued.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday that Gaza was in “critical condition” as he called for “an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire.”

“In the name of humanity, the violence must stop,” Ban told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

“More suffering and siege conditions will only hurt innocent civilians, further isolate Israel, empower extremists on all sides, and leave our world far less safe,” stressed Ban.

Israel said it would continue fighting to destroy Hamas rockets and “terror tunnels” used by militants to infiltrate and attack Israel. Multiple rockets were launched against Israel from Gaza on Monday, Israeli and Palestinian media reported.

Haaretz reported Monday that five Palestinian militants infiltrated Israel through a tunnel and attacked IDF troops, wounding five.

Hamas and other Palestinian fighters said they would continue fighting until Israel releases prisoners and lifts its crippling blockade of Gaza, which has caused immense suffering in the densely populated strip of 1.8 million inhabitants, most of them refugees.

Militants are also resisting Israel’s half-century illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, as well as the continued illegal settler colonization of the occupied territories.

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