Gaza death toll climbs ahead of ceasefire

Thu, Nov 22, 2012, 00:00

The doctors, the ambulance drivers and the human rights monitors all said it was one of the worst days. But no one could be sure just how bad until the reports from the morgues, or of funerals held without fanfare, or of the recovery of another body from under the rubble, dribbled in.

By yesterday afternoon, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) was reporting 31 Palestinians killed in the Israeli assault over the previous 24 hours – 21 of them civilians – in perhaps the worst bloodletting yet of the military campaign against Gaza.

And even as a ceasefire was announced yesterday evening, the bombs and missiles were still falling and the death toll rising with a strike in the south of the enclave that killed two men on motorcycles. Bodies were still being pulled from a bombed Gaza City government complex.

The latest victims included Ibrahim Mahmoud Nasser Abu Nasser (80) and his 14-year-old grandson, Ameera, who were cropping olive trees in Abassan village to the east of Khan Yunis refugee camp when a missile shot from the sky killed them both.

The Palestinian health ministry puts the total death toll at more than 150, although officials concede they may not know about all of those killed. The PCHR says at least 90 of those are civilians, including about 30 children.

But as the reports of the killings emerged, there was something more. The places people died told that the assault by land, sea and air – delivered from tanks, huge naval guns, attack helicopters and fighter jets – had shifted more firmly towards the tightly packed neighbourhoods of Gaza City and small towns and refugee camps. Those were the very places thousands of Palestinians had fled to after the Israeli military dropped leaflets warning people to get out of border areas to the north and east.

– (Guardian service)