Gaza toll hits 213 on 9th day of Israel air campaign
GAZA CITY - Agence France-Presse
A Palestinian mother kisses the body of four-year-old girl Sarah Sheik al-Eid after she was killed along with her father and uncle in a Israeli military strike the previous day, during their funeral in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on July 15. AFP Photo / Said KhatibFour children on the beach in Gaza City were killed in an Israeli raid on Wednesday, raising the overall death toll to 213, the emergency services said.
All four were on the beach when the attack took place, in what initially appeared to be shelling from the sea, according to AFP correspondents who witnessed the attack from a nearby hotel.
Several injured children took refuge at the hotel, they added.
The latest violence took Wednesday's death toll to 16, and raised the overall number of dead in Gaza after nine days of violence to 216, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said. More than 1,560 have been wounded.
Earlier, a 37-year-old man was killed in an air strike on the Zeitun neighbourhood, east of Gaza City, which took place several hours after the army warned 100,000 residents to leave the area and the neighbouring district of Shejaiya.
Most of Wednesday's deaths came in the south, with six killed in several strikes on Khan Yunis and five killed in Rafah, which straddles the Egyptian border. In Khan Yunis, four people from the Al-Daqqa family were killed in two separate strikes, one of which killed a 65-year-old woman and a 10-year-old boy.
One of the victims in Khan Yunis was killed by tank fire.
In Rafah, five men were killed in four separate strikes, one of which hit a house in the city, Qudra said.
According to figures provided by the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), more than 80 percent of the victims were civilians.
So far, one person has been killed in Israel -- a civilian who died on Tuesday evening in a rocket strike near the Erez crossing, medics said. Four Israelis have been seriously wounded.
Since the latest violence began before dawn on July 8, 1,021 rockets fired from Gaza have struck Israel, and another 256 have been shot down by the Iron Dome air defence system, army figures show. Forty-three struck Israel on Wednesday and 24 were intercepted.
During its operation, Israel has struck more than 1,750 "terror targets" across the coastal enclave, the army said.
Warning from Israel
On July 16, the air force warned some 100,000 Palestinians in the northeastern Gaza Strip to evacuate their homes, warning a series of military strikes was imminent, the military said.
The flyers said the military would be carrying out "aerial strikes against terror sites and operatives" in Zeitun and Shejaiya, two flashpoint districts east of Gaza City, saying "a high volume of rocket fire" had been directed from there.
A similar message was sent to residents of Beit Lahiya in the north, echoing a similar warning sent by the army on Sunday, when more than 17,000 residents of the north fled for their lives, most seeking refuge in UN-run schools.
AFP correspondents saw flyers dropped over Zeitun, and residents elsewhere also reported receiving recorded phone and text messages urging them to evacuate by 0500 GMT.
"The evacuation is for your own safety," the leaflet read, warning residents to not return to their homes until further notice.
But Hamas urged residents to ignore the warnings, dismissing it as "psychological warfare".
"There is no need to worry about these (warnings), or deal with them. Do not respond to them in any way," an interior ministry statement said.
"This is part of the psychological war, intended to disrupt the domestic front."