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Gaza: Is this a war on children?

Jon Snow has been speaking to youngsters in Gaza City about their lives and how they’re coping with living in a warzone. And he also talks to Dr Mads Gilbert – a Norwegian doctor working at al Shifa hospital – who is treating some of the children.

At least 59 Palestinian families suffered multiple casualties over four weeks of Israeli bombardment in Gaza, according to data collated by the Guardian. The youngest casualty was 10-day old Hala Abu Madi, who died on 2 August; the oldest was Abdel al-Masri, aged 97, who was killed on 3 August.

The figures are based on data from three independent Palestinian human rights organisations – the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) and Al Mezan, both based in Gaza, and the West Bank-based Al-Haq; the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem; and the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

However, it is almost certainly an incomplete picture. Systematic identification of bodies and logging of data have been hampered by the sheer scale of the casualties in Gaza – about 2,000 killed in total, including 470 children, and 10,000 wounded – types of injuries, and the need for swift burial.

Among families in which four or more people died, 479 people were killed in total, including 212 children under the age of 18, and 15 people aged 60 and over. The deadliest day was 30 July, when 95 members of 10 families were killed. On 20 July, 65 members of 10 families died, and on 21 July, 71 members of six families were killed.

Pictures of Palestinian children in Gaza who, having escaped death during Israel’s military operation, are nevertheless suffering from various diseases due to living in overcrowded places that are not suitable hygienically for them, following the displacement of their families as a result of the Israeli air bombardment and ground attacks.

Senior UN officials say the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip has left thousands of children traumatized across the besieged Palestinian territory. Latest figures show 400,000 Palestinian children are in immediate need of psychological help due to the “tragic impact” of the Israeli assaults.

The Guardian has interviewed six families who suffered multiple casualties. In each case, relatives say there was no warning of attack, and all deny any connection with militant organisations in Gaza.

However, in many cases there may have been a military target among the dead. But the number of women and children killed in such attacks has led human rights organisations and international observers to question whether Israel’s use of force was proportionate and in keeping with the obligation under international law to protect civilians in war.

Shaqqura, of the PCHR, said: “What has been significant about this onslaught is the deliberate attacks on families – whole families have been smashed under the rubble. We have documented 134 families, in which two or more members have been hit by Israeli forces – a total of 750 people.

“No justification can be accepted in targeting civilians, even if there is a security threat [in the vicinity]. Israel’s excessive use of force is contrary to international law on two counts – the principle of distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants, and the principle of proportionality, under which attacks must be proportionate to threat.”

Meanwhile, an Israeli court has recently banned the broadcast of Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem that listed the names of Palestinian children killed during Israel’s month-long offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The Supreme Court have rejected B’Tselem’s appeal to overturn a decision by the Israel Broadcast Authority to ban a broadcast produced by the NGO, saying it is of political nature. The broadcast listed the names of children killed in the war in the besieged enclave.

Gaza counts the cost of war: ‘Whole families smashed under the rubble’

BBC News – Gaza: What does the future hold for the children?

How Israel targeted the children of Gaza – Global Research

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