25 Palestinians killed, 99 families displaced during Gaza escalation

As media attention again fades from Gaza following the recent devastating two-day military escalation, Palestinians continue to live with the human consequences.

Twenty-five Palestinians were killed during the offensive and 111 injured. Defence for Children International – Palestine report that two children were killed in an Israeli airstrike in northern Gaza – three-month-old Maria Ahmed Ramadan Ghazali and 11-year-old Abdel-Rahman Talal Attieh Abu Jidian. Abdel-Rahman’s parents, Raghda and Talal, were also killed in the same incident. A 19-month old infant, Saba Mahmoud Hamdan Abu Arar, was killed alongside her nine-months-pregnant aunt, reportedly as a result of a rocket misfired by a Palestinian armed group.

Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights report that Israeli forces conducted 153 airstrikes, launching 285 missiles and 104 shelling attacks across the densely-populated Gaza Strip. Amid extensive targeting of residential structures, 99 apartments were destroyed, displacing 352 people, including 91 children. Al Mezan called on the international community to “condemn the unlawful military attacks, which have led to the death of whole families as well as to the displacement of many more, in what could amount to war crimes.”

One of the destroyed buildings was a rehabilitation centre in Rafah. In an interview, a man who attended the centre said:

The rehabilitation centre in Rafah was destroyed after the building was shelled by the Israeli forces. It is the only centre that provides services and assistance for disabled people. Israelis claim that they only target terrorists, so are we terrorists? Does this centre look like a place for terrorists?” As he was speaking he help up a table tennis award the centre had won. “Now we have nowhere to go, this was the only centre in Rafah for the disabled.”

Two members of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)’s staff were forced to relocate from their homes due to Israeli targeting of a neighbouring building. Their apartment windows were destroyed by the force of the blast. A member of MAP’s team in Gaza said,

How many wars can a human being tolerate in one life? In one life you try to save any money you can in order to buy a home , you don’t go to restaurants in order to save some money, you don’t go on holidays, you decide not to buy the jacket you like, you ask your daughter to accept less pocket money, all because you want to save money to buy that home one day. But if you live in Gaza all of what you saved, all of what you deprived yourself and your family from, can go in a blink of a rocket by the Israeli air forces.”

All of Gaza’s 2 million population will have been affected by the escalation. MAP’s Director of Programmes in Gaza, Fikr Shalltoot, remarked on the morning of the second day of the assault: “I believe that the majority of the two million Palestinians living in Gaza will have had no sleep last night. The targets of the strikes indicate that there is no safe place in Gaza.” Though a ceasefire reportedly brokered by Egypt and Qatar is holding, fears of future military attack remain high.

The escalation exacerbates the chronic humanitarian emergency created by Israel’s illegal 12-year closure of Gaza. If the international community wishes to end the cycle of destruction it should look beyond simple humanitarian relief, and pursue political solutions based on international law, accountability, and recognition of the rights and dignity of Palestinians in Gaza.