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Update: 14 children killed in Israeli airstrikes over Gaza

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CORRECTION: The article originally listed the death of Ahmad Mousa Habib, 16. This was removed from the alert when it was found that he was not under 18 years old.

Ramallah, July 10, 2014—A further seven children, including four toddlers, died on Wednesday in Israeli air strikes on Gaza. Fourteen children have now been killed since Israel launched a major military offensive on the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. The children were all aged between 1 and 15 years old.

Israeli airstrikes hit hundreds of targets across the Gaza Strip throughout Wednesday. In the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, Mohammad Ibrahim Fayeq al-Masri, 14, died when his family home was targeted by the Israeli air force.

In Gaza City, two brothers, Mohammad Iyad Salem Areef, 9, and Amir, 11, were killed while playing in front of their home when a bomb hit Al-Shujaiyah neighborhood where they lived. Both died instantly of their wounds. In the Zeitoun neighborhood, a bomb killed Mohammad Fakher Mustafa Jamal Malaka, 3, and his mother.

A further two brothers from Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza died when their home was hit by an Israeli missile. Mohammad Khalaf Odeh al-Nawasra was just 1, and his brother Nidal only 3.

A 1-year-old girl, Ranim Jawdat Abdul-Karim Abdul-Ghafoor, died when a missile hit her home in a crowded residential area in Al-Qarara. She was killed immediately after sustaining a head injury.

The Israeli military said in a statement that it had targeted hundreds of sites in Gaza and killed three Islamic Jihad militants. "We aimed at 322 targets in Gaza overnight, taking to 750 the total number of Hamas targets hit by the army since the start of Operation Protective Edge," Lt Col Peter Lerner told reporters.

The Israeli air force has stated that deaths of children and civilians are not intentional, but claims that nothing can be done to prevent them. Speaking of one incident on Tuesday in which five children from the same family died, an officer said that children could be seen entering the house as it was being bombed.

“There was nothing to be done, the munition was in the air and could not be diverted,” a senior air force officer said. “Although you see [the family members] running back into the house, there was no way to divert the missile.”

DCI-Palestine is investigating the reported deaths of at least three other children in strikes on Wednesday.

Seven children killed in Israeli airstrikes over Gaza

Ramallah, July 9, 2014—Israel launched a major military offensive on the Gaza Strip Tuesday that killed at least seven Palestinian children and wounded dozens more in air and sea strikes.

Israeli forces killed six children when a missile struck the home of alleged Hamas activist Odeh Ahmad Mohammad Kaware in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. The five families that reside in the building evacuated immediately after an Israeli aerial drone fired a warning missile. A number of neighbors, however, gathered on the roof in an effort to prevent the bombing. Shortly after 3 p.m., an Israeli airstrike leveled the building, and killed seven people, including five children, on the spot and injured 28 others.

Hussein Yousef Hussein Karawe, 13, Basem Salem Hussein Karawe, 10, Mohammad Ali Faraj Karawe, 12, Abdullah Hamed Karawe, 6, and Kasem Jaber Adwan Karawe, 12, died immediately, according to evidence collected by Defense for Children International-Palestine. Seraj Abed al-Aal, 8, succumbed to his injuries later that evening.

DCI-Palestine confirmed one other Palestinian teenager died in strikes across Gaza. An Israeli attack killed Ahmad Nael Mahdi, 15, from Gaza City’s Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, and wounded two of his friends, one of which remains in critical condition.

DCI-Palestine is confirming reports of at least three other children killed in the strikes on Tuesday.

“The death and injury to children caused by Israel’s military offensive on Gaza demonstrates serious and extensive disregard of fundamental principles of international law,” said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine. “Israeli forces must not carry out indiscriminate airstrikes in densely populated areas that fail to distinguish between military targets, civilians and civilian objects.”

Since the beginning of Israel’s ongoing military offensive on Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, Israeli forces have launched at least 146 strikes on Gaza. The strikes have killed at least 25 Palestinians and injured more than 100 others, according to news reports.

International humanitarian law prohibits indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks and requires that all parties to an armed conflict 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.

While Israel relies on the principle of self defense to justify military offensives on Gaza, Israeli forces are bound to customary international law rules of proportionality and necessity.

Hamas’ military wing claimed responsibility for firing around 120 rockets from Gaza into southern and central Israel, with some reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, according to Haaretz. Israel’s “Iron Dome” anti-missile system has reportedly intercepted at least 23 rockets. While minimal property damage has been reported, there have been no serious casualties.

The Israeli military has mobilized thousands of reserve soldiers in preparation for any further escalation, according to news reports.

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.

The last major Israeli military offensive on Gaza, Operation Pillar of Defense, occurred between November 14 and 21, 2012. During those eight days more than 30 Palestinian children died in Israeli military attacks.

Previously, Israeli forces launched a three-week intensive aerial and naval bombing campaign and ground invasion in the Gaza Strip, dubbed Operation Cast Lead, on December 27, 2008. At least 353 children were killed and a further 860 injured during the military offensive.

Both Israeli military offensives were characterized by disproportionate force directed at government and civilian infrastructure, residential neighborhoods, and individual civilians. The stated objective of each operation was to end rocket attacks into Israel by Palestinian armed groups.