|The report says 'extreme poverty' is forcing children to drop out of school and work for a living [GALLO/GETTY]
Children in Gaza are coming under regular gunfire from Israeli soldiers while scavenging in the ruins of buildings bombed during the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2009, a new Save the Children report has warned.
Twenty-six children were shot by Israeli troops close to the border last year, according to the UNICEF-led working group on children affected by armed conflict.
That number includes 16 children who were shot outside the Israeli-imposed 'exclusion zone' that extends 300m into Gaza.
The children scavenge for construction materials due to the ongoing blockade of Gaza, which means that no new materials are allowed in, the report said.
Thousands of homes destroyed during the conflict have yet to be rebuilt due to the shortage.
'End the blockade'
"The blockade must end immediately and there must be a review of policies with respect to the border area," said Salam Kanaan, Save the Children UK’s Country Director in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
"The Gaza blockade has put children’s lives at risk."
In September 2010, two 16-year-old boys and their 91-year-old grandfather were killed by Israeli tank fire about 700m from the border.
"Because of the blockade's devastating economic impact, children are being forced to work and scavenge near the fence. Even those who are not in the so-called 'buffer zone' unilaterally imposed by Israel are being targeted by Israeli soldiers," said Chris Gunness, Spokesman for UNRWA.
The report goes on to condemn the Israeli blockade for "ravag[ing] the economy, leaving many ... struggling to support their families", and forcing children to drop out of school to take up work.