A Gaza school cited as the source of mortar fire that killed an Israeli 4-year-old was hit by Israeli forces early Tuesday.
The Israel Defense Forces said on Tuesday that it hit over 15 targets in the Gaza Strip during overnight airstrikes, and Palestinians said two high-rise apartment buildings were hit and badly damaged by airstrikes.
The IDF said it targeted several Hamas command and control sites, including two schools in the central and northern Strip. Terrorists had been firing rockets at Israel from within the compounds.
On Friday, Daniel Tragerman, 4, was killed when a mortar shell exploded near his home on Kibbutz Nahal Oz, near the Gaza border. The army said the mortar was fired from inside a Gaza school.
One of the Israeli strikes hit the Ali Bin Abi Taleb school, which was also being used as a shelter by internally displaced Palestinians who were warned via text message and voice mail to leave the site, the IDF said.
On Saturday, in the wake of Tragerman’s death, the United Nations Children’s Fund put out a statement calling on both sides in the conflict to do their utmost to protect civilians, and in particular children.
Hundreds attended his funeral on Sunday, including President Reuven Rivlin.
During the course of the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge, which began on July 8, some 260 rockets were fired at Israel from education institutes and over 300 more were launched from other civilian facilities in Gaza, according to IDF statistics released earlier this month.
On at least three occasions Hamas rockets were found stockpiled in United Nations-run schools in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian medical sources in the Hamas-run territory said two people were killed after the army hit two large apartment towers.
Tuesday’s strikes leveled the 15-story Basha Tower of apartments and offices and severely damaged the Italian Complex, built in the 1990s by an Italian businessman, with dozens of shops and offices.
Both buildings were evacuated after receiving warnings of impending strikes. Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said 25 people were wounded in the attack on the Italian Complex.
One Italian complex resident, 38-year-old engineer Nael Mousa, said that he, his four children and 70-year-old mother had managed to flee the building late Monday night after a guard had alerted them of an impending strike, and that he was in his car some 300 meters away when it was bombed by an Israeli F-16 fighter jet.
Within two hours, he said, it had been completely leveled by at least five additional bombs.
“I have become homeless, my children’s fear will never be soothed, and something new has now been added to our feelings toward Israel and all the world which has been looking on without doing anything,” he said.
In an email message to The Associated Press, military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said the strikes were “a direct result to Hamas’ decision to situate their terrorist infrastructure within the civilian sphere including schools, hospitals and high-rise buildings.”
“We are determined to restore security to the State of Israel, and are unprepared to enable Hamas to continue to kill Israelis, target our towns and cities and expect to operate without consequence to their facilities, militant operatives and the leadership of their heinous attacks against Israel,” he said.