One third of those killed are children, with total now 265
DEATH TOLL:UP TO one third of the people killed in Gaza are children, who have nowhere to run for shelter, according to UN reports. As Israel’s soldiers and tanks have moved from farmland at Gaza’s edge into the broken-down refugee camps and towns of the territory, the child death toll has more than quadrupled.
From 60 child deaths in the first eight days of aerial bombardment, the number of children who have been killed now stands at 265.
Eight children were killed yesterday as the overall death toll climbed to 800 in an area that is sealed off from the world by Israel’s 18-month blockade, and is just 38 miles long and eight miles wide.
“There is no safe space in the Gaza Strip, no safe haven, no bomb shelters and the borders are closed and the civilians have no place to flee,” the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a weekly report.
Schools, mosques and houses, where people have been sheltering, have been hit. But Israel says Hamas is to blame and accuses the militant group of storing and mounting attacks from sites used by civilians.
“Hamas uses homes, mosques and hospitals to fire from and civilian casualties are unavoidable,” said Maj Jacob Dallal, a spokesman for the military.
Israel’s military also insists that the majority of deaths have been Hamas members. Yet Al-Mezan, a Palestinian human rights group, which is trying to verify the UN’s casualty numbers, which come from the Palestinian ministry of health, says the military is attacking unarmed civilians.
It says, for example, that on the morning before the ground invasion began, a father and his three sons were scavenging for wood for cooking and heating when they were hit by a missile. Children are also dying because rescue teams and ambulances cannot retrieve them from the wreckage.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, which is also trying to verify the death toll, said that on the seventh day of aerial bombardment a 10-year-old boy, Hamada Ibrahim Musabebeh, lost his feet after his house was shelled and he eventually died.
Despite three-hour lulls that Israel has introduced to allow aid and rescue teams to operate, many children in need of urgent attention remain trapped, says Physicians for Human Rights (PFHR), an Israeli human rights group.
“It’s impossible to know how many such children are waiting for help,” PFHR’s Mary Weingarten, said. – (Guardian service)