Israel has killed more than 30 Palestinians in a fresh round of bombings on the besieged Gaza Strip.
Some 34 people were killed during a sustained two-day bombardment that followed the Israeli assassination of a Palestinian military leader on Tuesday.
The youngest victim of Israel’s assault was Muaz al-Sawarka, just seven years old.
Israel triggered two days of violence with a targeted airstrike on the home of Bahaa Abu al-Ata, a commander in the resistance group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The strike killed Abu al-Ata and his wife Asma Mohammed, and wounded two of their children.
Islamic Jihad retaliated by launching waves of rockets at Israel, none of which killed or injured any Israelis.
Of the 34 people killed by Israel’s bombardment, as many as 16 were civilians. Some 111 people were also wounded, including 46 children.
The fighting ended late on Wednesday night after Israel and Islamic Jihad agreed a ceasefire.
As the bombing continued, United Nations official Nickolay Mladenov condemned Islamic Jihad for “attacks against civilians”. He didn’t mention Israel’s deadly assault.
Meanwhile, amid boasts of how many Palestinians it had killed, Israel’s military presented its assault as merely defending itself from an unprovoked “terror” attack.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have had to live under an Israeli-enforced siege for more than 12 years.
Some 34 percent of Gaza’s population of two million people live in abject poverty, according to its health minister Ghazi Hamad. And 70 percent of Gaza’s residents don’t have enough nutritious food.
People in Gaza also face sporadic Israeli assaults—including three devastating wars that have killed thousands since 2008.
And Israeli soldiers have killed hundreds of people—and injured tens of thousands—during weekly protests at fence that pens them inside Gaza. Palestinians have been protesting since March last year demanding an end to the siege and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
All mainstream Israeli politicians back the siege and regularly threaten new wars on the Gaza Strip.
This week’s violence comes as Israeli politicians try to cobble together a government following an election in September.
“Centrist” leader Benny Gantz—currently attempting to form a coalition—promised a government led by him would increase assassinations and deter rockets “at any cost”.
He has also boasted that, under his command, the Israeli army sent parts of Gaza “back to the stone age” during its assault in 2014.
During the latest assault, current Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel “will continue to hit them with no mercy”.
Meanwhile politician Avigdor Lieberman accused Netanyahu of “surrender” for not using the latest assault to attack Hamas, which rules in Gaza. Lieberman’s support is seen as key to forming a coalition government in Israel.