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Israel's smart bombs kill two "terrorists": Nidal, aged 4, and Mohammed, aged 2

According to Gaza health ministry figures half of the "terrorists" killed by Israel in the past four days have been women or children.

THEY never lived to see the final score.

Inside the Fun Time Beach café on Gaza's Mediterranean shore, nine friends and siblings gathered around a portable television powered by a generator to watch Argentina take on Holland in the semi finals of the World Cup.

At 11.30pm, half an hour into the match, an Israeli missile blasted through the flimsy roof of the tumbledown structure to scatter the social gathering in bloody mayhem.

The strike killed Mohammed Fawana along with three sets of brothers – Ahmed and Suleiman Astal, 18 and 16, their cousin Musa, also 16, Mohammed and Ibrahim Ganan, 24, and 25, and Hamdi and Ibrahim Sawaleh, 20 and 28.

A third Sawaleh brother, Salim, 23, was still missing on Thursday, with giant earth moving machines upturning huge quantities of sand in a search for his body.

"They had simply come here to watch the match," said Wael Sobih, standing beside a wrecked beach-scape of broken plastic chairs and upturned palm trees. "This is a play area, not a military camp. It was a normal social occasion." Others said the nine often watched football and had been rooting for Argentina. There was no comment on whether any of them belonged to Hamas or other Palestinian militant factions.

The fans' deaths was just one of several graphic examples of the soaring human toll being exacted by Israel's Operation Protective Edge offensive, launched on Monday with the stated goal of stopping rockets being fired into Israeli territory from Gaza, a coastal enclave where 1.8 million mostly impoverished Palestinians live.

Just a few miles down the road, in Magazi, an Israeli missile shorn the Nawasrah family's two-storey home in half on Wednesday afternoon – reducing one side to rubble while leaving the other side neatly intact, its undamaged furnishings and decor exposed to full view.

The strike killed Salah Nawasrah, 23, his four-months-pregnant wife, Aisha, and his two nephews, Nidal, 4, and two-year-old Mohammed, with whom he had been playing at the time.

Zeinab Nasser, 57, an eyewitness and family relative, said the younger child's head was blown off and later found in the garden.

Mr Nawasrah's sister, Somud, vehemently denied that he had affiliations with Hamas or other groups, describing him as an electrician.

In Khan Younis – a town where several Israeli strikes on civilian homes have occurred – eight members of the same family were killed when two Israeli missiles struck a house at around 1.25am on Thursday, killing Yasir al-Hajj, 27, a Hamas member.

It also claimed the lives his father Mohammed, 58, two brothers, Sa'id, 17, and Tariq, 19 and a sister, Asma, 22.

Two other young female relatives were killed while another brother, Omar, 20, was believed to buried under the rubble, presumed dead, witnesses said.

The blast also destroyed three neighbouring houses, including that of the Halabi family, whose six members had a miraculous escape when the walls of their recently rebuild home collapsed under its force.

"My husband and I were sitting up late because of Ramadan and drinking coffee in the living room when suddenly there were two huge bombs and then dust and masonry came falling down," said Mona Halabi, who said she feared for the lives of her three daughters, Dina, 18, Sara, 20 and Nadine, 15, and her 10-year-old son, Ahmed, who were in separate rooms that were devastated by the explosion.

The children escaped unhurt but suffering from shock. Amid the destroyed clothes, toys, picture frames and household goods, Mrs Halabi found one item that survived intact – the family's copy of the Koran.

Israel's targeting of civilian homes has raised the death toll in Gaza to 81 (now 107), most of them non-combatants and half of them women and children according to Gaza health ministry figures.

In a statement, the Israeli army defended its actions, saying it had struck several houses in Gaza that were being used for "military purposes", such as " weapons storage, command and control centres, or communications".

"When houses are used for military purposes, they may become legitimate military targets under international law," the statement added.

However, despite that justification, Israeli officials were forced to admit that another strike on Tuesday which killed eight members of the Kaware family – also in Khan Younis – was a "tragic mistake". Six children were among those killed when a missile struck the house soon after a warning telephone call had been placed by a member of the armed forces. Witnesses said the house – home to several generations of the one family – exploded less than a minute later. While some relatives had tried to leave the house, others had apparently headed for the roof to act as human shields.

Israeli officials had said that the house was home to Odeh Kaware, a senior Hamas military commander, and was a "legitimate target".

The Israeli security cabinet met for seven hours on Thursday in crisis talks believed to have discussed the possibility of a land invasion of Gaza.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, told the Israeli foreign affairs and defence committee that a ceasefire with Hamas was "not on the agenda". Moshe Ya'alon, the defence minister, tweeted that Israel had " long days of fighting ahead of us".

Source: The Telegraph

Update 12 July 2014
  • Killed since 8 July: 121
  • Injured since 8 July: 924
  • According to Gaza health ministry figures half of the "terrorists" killed by Israel were women or children
  • 300 homes in Gaza destroyed
  • 2000 Gazans made homeless
  • Israel says it has launched 1,100 air-strikes - or one air strike every 4.5 minutes - in the last four days
  • Netanyahu says more bombing in coming days, "no international pressure will stop us ... we are preparing for all options including ground operations"
  • UN high commissioner for human rights says Israel's strikes on civilian homes are against international law

Terror in Gaza: 57 seconds ‘warning,’ before Israel destroys house

Israel claims it is warning civilians about missile strikes by "roof knocking" - mortars dropped by the Israeli air force on the roofs of homes before destroying them with bigger bombs. Watch the reality, as the people in this house are given 57 seconds warning.

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