A new report details the harrowing reality for Gaza’s children during last summer’s assault.
By Natasha Roth
There came a point early on during last summer’s Gaza war when it seemed we reached a nadir. Four children, all under the age of 12, were killed by an Israeli naval attack while playing soccer on a beach. The boys were directly struck by two shells, which also seriously wounded four other children.
It was, as we now know, about to get infinitely worse for Gaza’s children. A new report released by Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) documents the consistent targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure by the Israeli army during the 50-day war. Part of Defence for Children International, an independent NGO, DCIP conducted its research in Gaza between the end of the war and the beginning of 2015, examining the sites of attacks and taking sworn affidavits from victims, eyewitnesses, families and neighbors. The resulting document is a clear-eyed, yet harrowing, picture of the catastrophe that befell Gaza’s children during the course of the war.
The report’s statistics make clear that in an area where 43 percent of the population is under the age of 14, any conflict will have a disproportionate impact on minors. By the end of the war, 547 children had been killed — 535 as a direct result of Israeli attacks. 3,347 were injured, of whom 1,000 were left permanently disabled. 164 children were killed in drone strikes, with evidence collected by DCIP indicating that they were directly struck in several of the attacks.
The massive and disproportionate use of firepower by the Israeli army against civilian targets during the war included strikes on schools, hospitals and refugee camps, with the report concluding that there was no safe place for children in Gaza during the war. They were killed in their homes, on a set of playground swings and taking shelter in schools.
These incidents repeated themselves consistently throughout the war; as the military’s use of force spiraled out of control (36,000 artillery shells, the ‘Russian Roulette’ of the IDF’s armory, were fired in 50 days), so did the number of dead children. One three-day period saw a child killed every hour. By the end of the war, an average of 11 children had been killed per day. On July 20th, the bloodiest day for children during the conflict...Read More