After Israeli airstrikes, Monday morning, killed nine Palestinians in Gaza, the Israeli military stepped up the attacks on Gaza, Tuesday morning, dropping more than 50 bombs on the besieged coastal Strip. Israeli officials announced that the airstrikes were just the first of many, in an operation they are calling “Protective Edge”.The Israeli military has amassed a number of troops on the border. In the air strikes from the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Israeli Airforce bombed the homes of four Hamas leaders in Gaza.

Many Palestinians, including children, have been injured in the Israeli strikes as the Israeli missiles targeted homes and civilian structures.

The barrage of bombs on Gaza came just after U.S. President Barack Obama urged ‘restraint by both sides’. At least seventeen Palestinians were wounded in Tuesday’s attacks.

Israeli officials claimed that around seventy homemade shells were fired from the Gaza Strip toward southern Israel. These are crude shells that are little more than tubes with dynamite placed inside, which are fired blindly, without any possibility of aiming them. No injuries or damage were reported from the shells.

According to the Israeli daily Yediot Ahranoth, an unnamed Israeli official told the paper, ‘We are preparing for a long operation. Tonight the [army] attacked 50 targets in Gaza, three from the sea and the rest from the air.’

The official reportedly said, “We increased the number of attacks and will continue to do so in the coming days. Hamas has entered this round with a handicap,” and that the Palestinian political party which runs the government in Gaza is in the “worst state it has been in years.”

The attacks, on both nights, came in the early morning hours when Palestinian Muslims in Gaza were waking for early breakfast before dawn, since this is the month of Ramadan in which Muslims around the world refrain from eating or drinking between sunrise and sunset.

The month of Ramadan is usually a meditative and joyous period, in which Palestinians stay out in the streets late at night to greet family and friends. But the last week of Israeli settler and military violence has pushed many Palestinians to remain indoors, particularly at night.

The unnamed Israeli official that spoke to Yedioth Ahranoth claimed that the Israeli military used a tactic of dropping a small mortar on the roof of a home to “warn” the residents that it will be bombed, and then dropping a full-scale bomb a few minutes later.

In at least one instance, the Israeli official claimed that the military called the cell phone of the family they were targeting and told them to evacuate, bombing their home a few minutes after the phone call.

In the last major Israeli military operation in Gaza, Operation Cast Lead at the end of 2010, the Israeli military killed over 1400 people in about 3 weeks, an estimated 80% of whom were civilians. 14 Israelis were killed in the same time period, 9 of whom were soldiers.