Israeli Air Strike Kills 10-Year-Old Palestinian Boy and His Sister, Age 6, in Gaza
An Israeli air strike in Gaza killed a 10-year-old Palestinian boy and his 6-year-old sister, medical officials reported.
The Guardian reports shrapnel from Saturday’s missile strike in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip killed Yassin Abu Khoussa. His sister Yasmin was mortally wounded and later died in a local hospital. Middle East Eye reports several of their siblings were also wounded in the attack, one of them seriously.
According to the New York Times, the family was living in a prefabricated shelter next to where their home stood before it was destroyed by Israeli forces during the 2014 Gaza war. The children’s father, 50-year-old Suleiman Abu Khoussa, said they were sleeping when the strike occurred.
“There was this massive strike nearby, and suddenly we found the roof falling in over our heads,” he told Middle East Eye. “The children were sleeping in the early dawn hours. I ran into their room, but panicked because there was so much blood and screaming. Their mother screamed, and we ran to the hospital with my son’s dead body.”
Israeli military officials said warplanes were targeting four camps where Hamas, the democratically elected leaders of Gaza and an Israeli- and US-designated terrorist group, was training militants. The attack was in retaliation for rockets launched from Gaza against Israel on Friday night. No one was hurt in those attacks, which Israel blamed on a rogue militant group.
“We will not tolerate the disruption of calm and the daily life of the residents who live around the Gaza Strip… which is why we reacted strongly against Hamas assets and we will act even more harshly if these attempts continue,” said Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
However, Gaza officials said they believed the rockets had been fired by a Salafist group opposed to Hamas. Although the number of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel has decreased dramatically since 2014 after an Israeli air, land and sea war killed more than 2,100 Palestinians—mostly innocent civilians, occasional rocket attacks have occurred over the past two years.
“Our policy with respect to the Gaza Strip is very clear,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response to the latest attacks. “Israel won’t tolerate any rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) will respond to such provocation. Israel holds Hamas responsible for all rocket from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Hamas is obligated to prevent [rocket] firing.”
Al Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, replied that it would “not accept [Israel’s] shedding of the blood of our children,” although the group stopped short of threatening reprisal attacks.
“The blood of our children will not flow in vain,” the group said on its website. “The occupation must know that patience of al-Qassam Brigades and the resistance factions has its limits.”
It seems, however, that both Israel and Hamas wish to maintain the fragile ceasefire that has been in place since the end of the 2014 war.
Saturday’s strike was the first by the IDF since last October, when a pregnant woman and her 2-year-old son were killed in a retaliatory attack.