[Baby Faris, killed in Rafah Friday 7/18 (image by @Mogaza on Twitter)]
By Celine Hagbard
IMEMC News: Reports coming in from all parts of the Gaza Strip indicate a rapid increase in airstrikes and artillery fire in the early morning hours of Friday. Five month old Faris Juma’ al-Mahmoum has become the latest casualty in the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza.
Fares was killed while in his mother’s arms near their home in Rafah, as his mother and other family members prepared for the morning prayers on the third Friday of Ramadan. His mother was severely wounded, along with eighteen others, as Israeli artillery shells rained down on the early morning worshipers.
In addition to Faris, Omar ‘Eid al-Mahmoum, 18, was also killed in the shelling.
On Friday at dawn, the Ministry Of Health in Gaza reported that an elderly women died as the army continued to pound Rafah, causing dozens of injuries.
The woman has been identified as Salmiyya Suleiman Ghayyadh, 70. She was killed in a neighborhood east of Rafah.
Independent journalist Mohammed Omer, based in Rafah, reported on Twitter, “This is the most terrifying night! Really intense bombing. I hear children crying, ambulance sirens and smell of death.”
Omer also reports that doctors in Najjar Hospital are reporting burn wounds from white phosphorus, which is a banned weapon, and do not know how to treat these burn wounds.
The death of five month old Faris follows the deaths of four four year olds late Thursday night in Israeli bombs in different parts of Gaza. On Wednesday, four children between the ages of nine and eleven were killed by Israeli naval artillery shells on a beach in Gaza City.
Reporters for the Electronic Intifada, who are on the ground in Gaza, report, “There is a massacre every day now”, with children and women making up the majority of the casualties of Israel’s assault on Gaza.
As of this report, Israel has called up 40,000 reserve soldiers who are now marching into northern Gaza, along with hundreds of tanks. Power has been cut to the entire Gaza Strip.
247 Palestinians have been killed, an estimated 80% of whom are civilians, according to the United Nations, and over 1800 wounded, many of them severely.
One Israeli has been killed in the nine days of Israel’s assault on Gaza, a 38-year old man who was killed by a shell at the Erez military base just north of Gaza. Israeli authorities have not released his name, or whether he was a civilian or a soldier.