More than 630 deaths have been recorded so far, as Israel continues its brutal assault on Gaza. Israel launched its offensive on the 8th of July, and according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, more than 25% of Palestinians killed have been children.
On the 23rd of July, Navi Pillay, the UN’s top human rights official, condemned Israel’s military actions in the Gaza Strip, admitting that war crimes may have been committed. She said that the attack on a Gaza beach that killed several children “may have violated humanitarian law”. Meanwhile, John Kerry, US Secretary of State, arrived in Israel in order to help negotiate a truce.
The following infographic (Published on July 21st by The Washington Post) presents statistics according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Palestinian Center for Human Rights and Israel Defense Forces. (click to enlarge)
16 July: Israeli air strike that killed 4 kids playing on a beach in Gaza
Four Palestinian children belong to one family (Bakr) were killed by an air strike while playing football on Gaza beach in July 16. The fisherman father had asked his children to stay indoors and especially away from the beach, but they disobeyed their parents and went out.
As the four kids (aged between 7 and 11) played on the beach, a blast that hit a nearby shack killed one of the boys instantly. The others ran, there was a second explosion, and three more bodies littered the sand. One was burnt, missing a leg, and another lay motionless, his head intact, his legs splayed at unnatural angles.
The children are: Ahed Atef Bakr and Zakaria Ahed Bakr, both aged 10, Mohamed Ramez Bakr, 11, and Ismael Mohamed Bakr, 9. Three others who were injured: Hamad Bakr, aged 13, with shrapnel in his chest; his cousin Motasem, 11, with an injured head and legs, and Mohammad Abu Watfah, 21, who was hit by shrapnel in his stomach.
So, what accountability will there be for those kids? Israeli military admitted later that it had launched the strike, and said it was aimed at Hamas militants! Where were these Hamas militants? Nobody knows.
Ahmed Abu Hassera told Reuters that “the kids were playing football on the beach. When the first shell hit the land, they ran away but another shell hit them all. It looked as if the shells were chasing them.” He said.
In a report by Human Rights Watch, it is stated that Israel had repeatedly struck civilians and their property without a clear military purpose and called on it to “end unlawful attacks.” Israel has hit houses, offices, cafés, and farmland in Gaza with F-16 airstrikes, missiles fired from Apache helicopters, and via shelling from naval gunboats.
20 July: Shujaiya massacre
Dozens of men, women and children were killed on Sunday morning July 20, as Israel heavily shelled the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiya (shown below).
Around 74 Palestinians were killed and more than 200 injured when Israel attacked Shujaya with artillery following fierce ground battles between Palestinian resistance fighters and Israeli troops, which ultimately forced the latter to retreat. But the true death toll could be even higher. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it coordinated a two-hour “humanitarian truce” to allow the rescue of the injured and the removal of dead bodies.
Graphic Content (Photos from Shujaya massacre )
More photos can be found on occupied Palestine blog.
The majority of these injured children are inside al-Shifa hospital, which is also accused by the Israeli military of harboring Hamas militants. Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, who is a well-known leftist activist working in al-Shifa hospital, described (during a phone interview) the six hours he spent in the hospital following Israel’s overnight bombardment of Shejaiya as a “real massacre” and the worst night of his life.
Dr. Belal Dabour talked to The Electronic Intifada about his experience treating the wounded during the hospitals crisis, and said that a lack of medicines had contributed to the horrific scenes he witnessed. “Just one ambulance just carried five bodies, I saw it myself,” he said, “Two children, one old woman, and two men.”
The following video recorded in the time of shelling in Shujaiya (contains graphic images):
Abu Mohammed al-Helo and his family were some of the survivors from Shujaiya. Abu Mohammed came to al-Shifa hospital and was desperately searching for his brother Jihad and his family. Neighbors told him that Jihad’s house was shelled, but that he was still alive. “My brother and his family are trapped under the rubble,” he told al-akhbar newspaper. “Neighbors say they heard them shouting for help as they escaped the area but couldn’t rescue them because of the strikes,” With tears welling up in his eyes, he walked away, looking for help.
21 July: Murdering Abu Jame’ family
26 members of the Abu Jame’ family were killed in a one strike when Israeli warplanes bombarded the house of Tawfiq Ahmad Abu Jame. This strike also killed four others outside of his family, and altogether 15 of those killed were children.
After the horrible strike, which came without prior warning, on the three-story house, the building was completely destroyed and collapsed with 5 families still inside. Civil defense workers and ambulances crews rushed to the destroyed building to uncover the bodies buried under the rubble. It took them until the next day to uncover the victims.
According to Associated Press report, a surviving family member said: “Doesn’t this indicate that Israel is ruthless?” said Sabri Abu Jame’. “Are we the liars? The evidence is here in the morgue refrigerators. The evidence is in the refrigerators.”
Monica Awad, a spokeswoman for UNICEF, told Ma’an News that about 72,000 children are in need of immediate psycho-social support, even UNICEF teams available in Gaza are not able to complete their work due to the threat of being targeted by Israel’s military. She also added that over 1.2 million people are not getting access to water after pipes were damaged and the power stations are get out of service, and children are at the highest risk of water-borne diseases.
Gaza’s enclave is home to around 1.8 million Palestinians. It’s still facing Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” being undertaken in the name of “staunch rocket fire from Gaza”, and alone this operation has killed more than 650 Palestinians so far.
These 3 crimes are nowhere near all the shocking and inhumane examples to be found! This continues every day, and there is no excuse for having approximately 25% of all casualties be children. If we moved the first massacre in our timeframe up from the 16th to the 19th of July, and included the recent shelling of a school full of refugees, the story would still be true. Right now, Hamas is offering an end to its resistance in exchange for open borders. As the situation develops, we will keep you informed.