Early Wednesday morning, Israeli forces stationed east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, fired tank shells at Palestinian homes, killing one child, a resistance fighter and wounding two other civilians.

Witnesses said that tanks invaded the area and opened fire at residents’ homes, Hadeil Al Smierri, 9 years old, was killed in the shelling, and two of her family members were wounded. Witnesses added the child was located in her home in the village of Qarara, just east of Khan Younis, when Israeli tank shells ripped through the wall of her home, killing her instantly.

As soon as the tanks attacked resistance fighters clashed with the invading forces, one fighter was killed, the Hamas movement armed wing the Al Qassam brigades named him as Ibraheem Saa’ed.

An Israeli military spokesman claimed that the military had fired toward the neighborhood because they thought they saw Palestinian resistance fighters firing homemade shells across the border toward Israel.

No shells were found in the area, however, which brings into question the Israeli military’s claim. According to the Israeli military, over 30 shells were fired from that area toward Israel on Tuesday.

Dr. Mou’awiah Hassanin, of the Palestinian ministry of health in Gaza, said that the Israeli troops opened fire at Palestinian ambulance cars while they were trying to evacuate the killed and injured. He added that this is the 15th attack by the Israeli army on Palestinian medical staff this month.

Khan Younis is one of the most crowded places on earth, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees are crowded into a small area and penned inside by the Israeli military. Hundreds of homes have been razed by Israeli forces in recent years for being too close to the Gaza-Egypt border.

The morning attack came just hours before a meeting was scheduled between Israeli and Palestinian officials to discuss a ceasefire.

The pattern of Israeli attacks on civilian populations in the hours preceding a ceasefire agreement or meeting has been consistent over the last eight years – virtually every time such a meeting is scheduled, an Israeli military attack on civilians occurs hours before it is to take place.