Gaza City – When Mohammad Saad learned that an Israeli airstrike had killed his cousin Reema Saad, he said the news struck the family “like lightning”.
Reema, 31, her husband Mohammed Telbani, 29, and their two children were in their apartment in Gaza City’s Tel al-Hawa neighborhood in the early hours of Wednesday when an airstrike hit the residential building, destroying their apartment .
Reema, who was four months pregnant, and Zeid, five, died immediately, and Mohammed later died in the intensive care unit, but the body of their daughter, three-year-old Maryam, was lost. not yet retrieved from the site. of the attack. Saad said the family had not received any warning before the airstrike.
“I am communicating with the firefighters and civil defense teams in Gaza to help us locate Maryam and put her down and be buried near her mother, who would have wanted this,” Saad said.
The day before the airstrike had been a happy one, with Reem visiting his family to congratulate his brother on his engagement. “The next day she returned home and was targeted,” Saad said.
The family hides the news of the murders from Mohammed Telbani’s mother for fear that she will suffer a heart attack.
The death toll increases
Since Israel launched airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip on Monday evening, Gaza’s health ministry said at least 103 people, including 27 children, have been killed and 580 others injured.
At least seven Israelis, including a child, have been killed in rocket attacks by armed groups in Gaza, led by the Palestinian group Hamas.
The latest escalation in violence follows weeks of tension in occupied East Jerusalem over a now postponed hearing regarding the forced eviction of several Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Friction in the city also spread to the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, which Israeli forces attacked three consecutive days during the last week of Ramadan, firing tear gas and stun grenades at worshipers in the city. interior of the mosque.
Hamas issued an ultimatum on Monday demanding that Israel withdraw its forces from the compound, Islam’s third holiest site that is also worshiped by Jews.
Shortly after the deadline expired, Hamas launched several rockets at Jerusalem, with Israel launching airstrikes shortly after.
The IDF says around 1,600 rockets have been fired from Gaza at various locations in Israel since Monday.
Its spokesman, Jonathan Conricus, told reporters on Thursday that the attacks on Gaza would continue as Israel braces for “multiple scenarios.”
“We have ground units that are prepared and are in various stages of preparation for ground operations,” he said. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has approved the mobilization of 9,000 additional reservists.
Thursday was the first day of Eid al-Fitr, a religious holiday for Muslims marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. But instead of happy celebrations and gatherings for families and friends, a funeral took place as Hamas sent more rockets into Israel and Israeli warplanes continued to strike the besieged enclave, including Rafah, near the border with Egypt.
In Gaza City, mourners carried the dead from Al-Omari Mosque on Thursday morning to the cemetery in the city’s far east. Throughout the procession, the sound of aerial bombardments and rocket fire was heard almost constantly.
Due to the air raids, condolences for those killed were only shared over the phone.
‘I hope they didn’t feel anything’
Some Palestinians have shared the news of their family members killed on social media, noting their status as civilians.
– Ms. 𓂆 (@BayanPalestine) May 12, 2021
Bayan AbuSultan, 25, said her cousin Miami Arafa, 27, and her aunt, 50, Hadeel, a mother of four, were killed while preparing for Eid at their home in the Amal neighborhood. of Khan Younis, when an Israeli air strike hit their home around 3 p.m. Wednesday.
There was no prior warning of an impending strike as Hadeel’s brother was in communication with her a few minutes before the bombardment. AbuSultan said she and Miami planned to go shopping together after Ramadan, as she was supposed to get married a few days after Eid al-Fitr.
The last time she heard from her cousin was when she shared her status on Facebook, praying for those killed.
“She didn’t know that soon after, we would wish her the exact same,” AbuSultan said. “I shudder every time I think about how terrified they were. I hope they didn’t feel anything.
Israeli airstrikes hit police headquarters and government buildings, three high-rise buildings, an ice cream factory in eastern Gaza and the Al-Salah school in Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza. Gaza strip.
Israeli airstrikes on Wednesday destroyed the al-Shorouq tower, which housed media organizations. Its ruins covered the streets of Remal, Gaza City’s busiest shopping street.
The IDF said it was only targeting multi-story buildings that are “military targets.” Other buildings he hit are “strategically important” Hamas-owned sites, he said.
Rights group denounces ‘collective punishment’
In a statement released Tuesday, the Euro-Mediterranean Observer for Human Rights (EMHRM) said that “the widespread bombing of Israel, including civilian property without respecting the principle of proportionality … is utterly appalling” .
Israeli forces “broadened their response to include targeting dozens of civilian objects, women and children and bombing densely populated gatherings, which the Rome Statute says is a war crime,” a- he said, adding that targeting civilian objects goes beyond military necessity.
Even though there was a military necessity to target certain sites #Gaza, it is the responsibility of #Israel as the occupying power to comply with other provisions of international humanitarian law to avoid harming civilians.
– Euro-Med monitor in oPt (@EuroMedoPt) May 12, 2021
In one of the airstrikes, Israeli forces killed Amira Abdel Fattah Subuh, 58, and her son Abd al-Rahman Yusef Subuh, 19, a disabled young man with cerebral palsy, the group said.
While the IDF later announced it was targeting the home of a battalion commander, field investigations confirm that no one was in the targeted apartment during the bombing, according to EMHRM.
“This incident is an example of Israel’s bombing policy that ignores the principle of proportionality. Israel deliberately targets civilian objects in order to inflict damage on the victims and leave them material losses as a form of revenge and collective punishment, prohibited by the rules of international humanitarian law. “