Gaza’s health ministry has said that Israeli air strikes have killed 101 Palestinians since the start of the Gaza offensive Tuesday. At least 22 of the victims were 16 years old or younger, it said. The exact number of casualties is disputed. The United Nations put Friday’s count at 96.
Eight Palestinian civilians were confirmed killed from air strikes Friday, including a 10-year-old girl, a pharmacist from Gaza City, and five people from the same family in their home in southern Rafah.
Israeli officials said the air strikes target Hamas militants and homes serving as command-control centers. It is unclear how many of the victims so far have been Hamas members.
Since Tuesday, Hamas militants have fired hundreds of rockets inside Israel. Many Israelis have sought safety in bomb shelters. The rockets have killed no Israelis. On Friday, a Hamas rocket hit Ashdod and critically injured one Israeli. Hamas also threatened to hit Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv.
On Friday Israel and Hezbollah militants also briefly exchanged fire after Hezbollah fired a rocket into northern Israel from southern Lebanon.
Israel has kept Gaza under siege since Hamas’ election in 2008. Human rights groups have repeatedly warned that civilians in Gaza are facing an increasingly worsening humanitarian crisis, after years of limited access to food, health, and construction resources.
On Thursday, Egypt briefly opened its border with Gaza for the first time since the offensive began. Egyptian officials let through 11 injured people from Gaza to seek care at a Sinai hospital.
Israeli and Palestinians officials have so far refused calls to negotiate a cease-fire.