Child death toll soars in Gaza

January 7, 2009

Between 1pm on January 4 and 2.30pm on January 5, 77 people were killed by the Israeli assault on Gaza. Of the victims, a staggering 21 were children.

Two days later, Israeli forces bombarded three UN-run schools in Gaza with artillery fire. At least 48 civilians were killed, according to the January 7 Sydney Morning Herald.

A January 5 press release by the Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights — a non-governmental organisation based in the Jabalia Palestinian refugee camp in the Gaza Strip — reported that the Israeli military operations are increasingly targeting civilian areas, including homes.

Unsurprisingly, the number of deaths of Palestinian children is rising sharply as a consequence. The total number of children killed in Gaza since the attack began on December 27 had reached 200 on January 7, according to the SMH.

One case among many cited in the Al-Mezan press release reported: "Israeli aircraft bombarded the house of Ameer Abu Aisheh, 40, in the Beach refugee camp, west of Gaza City. The man and his wife, 39-year-old Sabah, and their son, five-year-old Ahmed, were killed immediately.

"Al Mezan also received reports that five of the same family members have been [buried] under the rubble of the three-story house. Those were identified as: Naheel Abu Aisheh (30); Ahmed Ameer Abu Aisheh (5); Hussein Ameer Abu Aisheh (12); Mohammed Ameer Abu Aisheh (8); and Ghaydaa Ameer Abu Aisheh (6)."

The child death toll is expected to rise much higher due to ongoing Israeli assaults, and also due to the dire lack of medical equipment in Gazan hospitals for treating injuries.

A January 5 article on Electronic Intifada quoted Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister, in her response to calls for a truce on humanitarian grounds. "There is no humanitarian crisis in the [Gaza] Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce", she told reporters.

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