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Saturday May 15 2021

Ten of a Gaza family killed in Israeli strike: medics

A young Palestinian boy looks on as Israeli security forces gather during a protest in the coastal city of Jaffa, near Tel Aviv, on May 15, 2021. — AFP

GAZA CITY: Ten members of a single extended family were killed in an Israeli air strike early Saturday on the western Gaza Strip, medics in the Palestinian enclave said.

The eight children and two women were killed when a three-storey building in Shati refugee camp collapsed following an Israeli strike, medical sources said.

Israeli warplanes have struck multiple targets in Gaza since aerial strikes began on Monday.

Speaking outside Shifa hospital in Gaza City, the father of four of the children, Muhammad al-Hadidi, said he wanted "the unjust world to see these crimes".

"They were safe in their homes, they did not carry weapons, they did not fire rockets," he said of his children, who were killed "wearing their clothes for Eid-ul-Fitr", the holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

Both Hadidi and Mohammad Abu Hattab, his brother-in-law and host, were away from Hattab's home when it collapsed. The Abu Hattabs' five-month-old baby also survived.

A spokesman for Gaza's Hamas group declared the deadly air strike "a war crime in its own right".

Tor Wennesland, the UN Middle East envoy, said he was "appalled" by the Shati devastation, noting that 40 Gazan and two Israeli children had been killed in recent days.

"Children continue to be victims of this deadly escalation. I reiterate that children must not be the target of violence or put in harm's way," he wrote on Twitter. "The hostilities must stop now!"

The death toll in Gaza since Monday stands at 139, at least 39 of them children.

At least 950 people have been wounded; some estimates report the number to have crossed 1,000.

On Monday, in response to a bloody Israeli police action at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in annexed east Jerusalem, Hamas fired rockets towards Jerusalem, to which Israel responded with air strikes.

Israel's air strikes have also included media offices, in what is increasingly being viewed as a attempt to restrict reportage out of Gaza.

Hamas has in its defence fired 2,300 rockets at Israel, killing 10 people, including two children and a soldier, and wounding more than 630.