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Young Gaza artist was among those killed in Israeli strike

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KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) — When Israeli bombs started falling last week, 22-year-old Duniana al-Amour ran into her room and, as she had done in Gaza’s past wars, turned to her art and paintings. tried to escape to

But this time her pencil never met paper.

Israeli artillery shells hit outside her home on Friday, the first of at least 47 Palestinians, including 16 children, killed in three days of heavy fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad groups. She was killed at Israel’s sudden opening ceremony hours before the militants launched a rocket.

The paintings she painted, mostly black-and-white portraits of relatives, some killed in previous fighting in Gaza, can be seen in the shattered bedroom where she died. Her mother, her brother and two of her sisters-in-law, who were baking bread in another room, suffered only minor injuries. A few days later the bread is placed on a wooden tray. This is a still life of the moment a cannonball hits.

Simone, one of her sisters-in-law, said al-Amour’s life revolved around her art. Brought it in, sat down and painted, and she painted us all,” Simone said.

Her death highlights the vulnerability of Palestinian civilians during frequent conflicts, including four wars fought between Israel and the territory’s militant Hamas rulers. More than 4,000 Palestinians have died in the war, more than half of them civilians, according to the United Nations. More than 100 people died on the Israeli side.

Those killed in recent violence include two senior Islamic Jihad commanders, one of whom Israel said was targeted to deter an imminent attack.But many civilians also died, including 16 who may have been killed. By an unexploded rocket by Palestinian militants.

Islamic Jihad fired about 1,100 rockets, but the Israeli military said about 200 were short and most of the rest were intercepted or dropped in open ground. No Israelis were killed or seriously injured in the recent string of battles.

Egypt-brokered ceasefire ends violence late Sundaybut grief still hangs over the poor neighborhoods.

Gaza has been under a crippling blockade by Israel and Egypt since the Hamas takeover. Critics see the blockade, which severely restricts access to and from the narrow seaside territory that is home to more than two million Palestinians, as a collective punishment.

Al-Amour sought to escape the suffering of Gaza through art. Her relatives said she had little interest in politics and that she dreamed of a Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Her family home, surrounded by border farmlands and olive groves, was an idyllic refuge from Gaza’s crowded cities and refugee camps. It was also at the forefront of each new battle.

The Israeli military said it “attacked legitimate military targets with precision” and “made every effort to prevent and minimize harm to civilians” during recent operations. He did not immediately comment on the strike near al-Amour’s home.

Israel destroys several guard towers posted by Palestinian militants near the border with artillery fire or tank shells, some about 500 meters (yards) from al-Amur’s family home. was included. The military has distributed videos showing some of the attacks. The tower rises in smoke and the men inside disappear in an instant.

All the family knows is that the shell that killed al-Amur came from the direction of the border fence. Muhammad al-Amur, Dunyana’s grieving brother, said Israel, with its sophisticated surveillance and targeting capabilities, had to know what it was aiming for.

“They brag about this technology,” he said. “They know who the civilians are.”

___ Joseph Krauss, an AP writer from Ottawa, Ontario, contributed to this report.

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