Two Palestinian children were killed on Saturday as Israel intensified its bombing of the Gaza Strip that it began on Friday night.
The health ministry in Gaza named the victims as Amir al-Nimra and Louay Kuhail.
On Monday, the Palestinian human rights group Al Mezan stated that the boys were both 14 years old.
The ministry said the children were killed by an Israeli missile that hit the al-Katiba area of Gaza City.
According to Al Mezan, Israeli warplanes fired five missiles at the al-Katiba building, a large unoccupied and unfinished concrete structure in the heart of Gaza City, on Saturday evening.
The two boys were playing on the roof when it was hit. Israeli aircraft returned minutes later, bombing the structure again and causing part of the building to collapse.
At least 25 others were injured in the Israeli air attacks, the health ministry stated.
Graphic video and photos shared by Palestinian media showed the two boys covered in blood lying on the ground as people attempted to help them.Local media shared this image of the boys following their deaths: This video is said to show an Israeli attack on the al-Katiba area: The health ministry stated that some of its ambulances, transport vehicles, equipment and storage containers located at its headquarters in the al-Katiba area were damaged by the Israeli attack. On Saturday, Israel carried out dozens of air raids across the Gaza Strip in what it said was the biggest daytime attack since its 2014 assault on the territory that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians.
Israel began the attacks Friday night “in response to an Israeli army officer sustaining wounds after a locally made bomb was thrown at him at the borders of the Gaza Strip,” Ma’an News Agency reported, citing Israeli media.
The newspaper Haaretz reported that an Israeli officer “was moderately wounded by a hand grenade that was launched at him from the northern Gaza Strip” on Friday.
Israel claimed it attacked tunnels and sites used for the preparation of incendiary kites and balloons.
Palestinian resistance factions returned fire towards Israel by launching dozens of rockets.
Israel said Saturday that 90 rockets had been fired from Gaza.
Four Israelis were lightly wounded when a rocket struck their home, Haaretz reported.
Despite fears of an uncontrolled increase in the violence, Hamas made clear that it is not seeking a military escalation.
Fawzi Barhoum, the movement’s spokesperson, said on Saturday that Hamas’ military wing had decided to respond immediately to Israel’s attacks in order to send a deterrent message that Israel should cease the escalation from its side.
“Protecting and defending our people is a national requirement and a strategic choice,” Barhoum added.
Resistance factions in Gaza have reportedly established a joint operations room to coordinate their military responses to Israel’s attacks.
Haaretz reported that “mediation efforts to bring calm to the south are underway.”
According to the newspaper, the Israeli military said “mediators are acting on the assumption that Israel will accept an agreement that is reached.”
Scenes of destruction
Residents and media in Gaza circulated videos online showing what were described as Israeli attacks and their aftermath.Israel’s bombing caused damage to a mosque in the al-Katiba area:
Escalation of collective punishment
Israel’s resort to large-scale air attacks is the latest escalation of its collective punishment of Gaza’s population due to its inability to stop the ongoing revolt against its 11-year siege of the territory.
Israel has been particularly frustrated that it has been unable to stop the launching of incendiary kites and balloons that have burned fields on the Israeli side of the boundary.
Last Monday, Israel shut the only commercial crossing for goods in and out of Gaza, cutting off vital supplies to the territory and prompting warnings from international officials and human rights groups that Gaza’s already dire humanitarian situation could deteriorate dramatically.
On Friday, Israeli forces fatally wounded two Palestinians, including a child, and injured dozens more, as snipers continued to use live fire against civilians who posed no conceivable danger.
Israel has killed some 150 Palestinians in Gaza and injured 4,000 more with live fire since the Great March of Return protests began on 30 March, the vast majority of them unarmed civilians.
Tamara Nassar contributed research.
This article has been updated since initial publication.