Israeli airstrike on Gaza house said to kill family of 10, mostly kids

Three-story house in al-Shati camp turns to rubble; military says leading Hamas figures were meeting in the building

Smoke billows above buildings after an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City in the Gaza Strip early on May 15, 2021. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
Smoke billows above buildings after an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City in the Gaza Strip early on May 15, 2021. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

An Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip overnight Friday-Saturday hit a house in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, killing at least 10 Palestinians, most of them children, Palestinians said.

Eight children and two women, all belonging to the Abu Hatab family, were killed, Gaza medical officials said.

Another 15 people were injured, according to multiple reports.

The Israel Defense Forces said the strike was aimed at top Hamas officials who were meeting in the building.

“During the night, the IDF attacked a number of senior Hamas figures in an apartment used as terrorist infrastructure in the area of the Shati refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip,” the military said.

Following the reports of a large number of civilian deaths, the IDF said it was investigating the airstrike.

The airstrike early Saturday in the western part of Gaza City recorded the highest number of fatalities in a single hit.

Mohammed Abu Hatab told reporters his wife and five children had gone to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday with relatives. She and three of the children, aged 6 to 14, were killed, while an 11-year-old was missing. Only his 5-month-old son Omar is known to have survived.

Said Alghoul, who lives nearby, said Israeli warplanes dropped at least three bombs on the three-story house without warning its residents in advance.

“I saw the bodies of four people, including children, being rushed to the hospital,” he said. “I could not endure and ran back to my home.”

He said rescuers called a bulldozer to dig up the rubble as they looked for survivors or bodies.

Shortly afterward, Hamas said it fired a salvo of rockets at southern Israel in response to the airstrike.

The Israel Defense Forces maintains that it takes significant steps to prevent civilian casualties in its airstrikes. Israel has also accused terror groups of launching rockets from densely populated civilian areas, using the people inside as human shields.

The prime minister’s Arab-language spokesman on Saturday blamed Hamas for the latest deaths, Channel 12 reported.

“Hamas bears full blame for the deaths of civilians in Gaza,” he said in a statement. “It sought this escalation and started it when it attacked Jerusalem. It intentionally buried its rocket launchers and weapons caches and posts in the center of residential areas and this is a war crime. It attacks our citizens to kill as many of them as possible and that is another war crime.”

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