One child killed every 15 minutes in Gaza

Men wearing orange safety vests stand with their arms crossed in front of their stomachs while standing in front of a shrouded body on a stretcher with a civil defense jacket placed on his chest

Members of the Palestinian civil defense mourn over the body of one of their colleagues killed in an Israeli strike early Monday, Gaza City, 16 October.

APA images

Israel’s bombardment by air, sea and land against 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza “continued almost uninterrupted” for a 10th day on Monday, the UN said.

While a threatened Israeli ground invasion has not yet begun, not even a temporary ceasefire appears to be anywhere on the horizon.

A UN Security Council resolution drafted by Russia calling for an immediate ceasefire the and release of captives held in Gaza was voted down on Monday. A vote on a draft resolution from Brazil that, unlike the Russian text, specifically condemns Hamas, has been delayed until late Tuesday.

In the meantime, Gaza’s morgues and hospitals continue to overflow with casualties.

The Gaza health ministry recorded 108 Palestinian fatalities over the past 24 hours as of 6pm local time on Monday, bringing the death toll in the territory since 7 October to 2,778 people. More than 1,000 of those killed were children, accounting for more than a third of the fatalities.

Forty-seven Palestinian families have been killed and wiped from the civil registry, according to the health ministry.

Hundreds of people “are missing and believed to be trapped under the rubble,” according to the UN.

Defense for Children International-Palestine said on Monday that Israeli forces have been killing “a Palestinian child approximately every 15 minutes in Gaza” since 7 October.

Mohammad Abu Rukbah, a field researcher for the children’s rights group in Gaza, said that the psychological repercussions of Israel’s war “will be catastrophic.”

The rights group said that “the trauma experienced by Palestinian children in Gaza extends beyond personal suffering.”

“Witnessing the deaths of other children compounds their distress, leaving indelible scars on their mental well-being,” Defense for Children International-Palestine added.

“Entire families are being wiped out in the blink of an eye, shattering the very foundations of these households.”

Children have been left orphaned and will now “grapple not only with the pain of the current situation in their city but also with the daunting challenge of navigating life without the foundational support of their families.”

The number of fatalities in Gaza may grow not only from more Israeli bombing but also as a result of the comprehensive siege imposed on the territory, where almost no food, water, fuel, electricity or humanitarian supplies has been allowed in for more than a week.

Hospitals are about to run out of fuel to power generators, “endangering the lives of thousands of patients,” according to the UN. Meanwhile, there is an “imminent risk of death or infectious disease outbreak” with the collapse of “virtually all water and sanitation services in Gaza.”

Young man reclines on bed in large tent lined up with additional beds occupied with patients

Palestinians injured in Israeli airstrikes receive treatment at a tent set up on the grounds of al-Aqsa Martyrs Hostpial in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, 16 October.

Atia Darwish APA images

As many as one million people – around half the population of Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas on the planet – are internally displaced, with many people moving from northern Gaza to the south after Israel ordered its evacuation ahead of a threatened ground invasion.

At least two Palestinians were reported killed in the West Bank late Sunday and Monday. Muin Damu, 21, was shot in the head from point-blank range during confrontations in Aqbat Jabr refugee camp near Jericho, according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA. Anas Raed Manasra, 19, died after being shot west of Jenin on Monday.

More than 50 Palestinians, including 16 children, have been killed in the West Bank since 7 October.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said on Monday that at least 15 journalists “were among the more than 4,000 dead on both sides since the war began” on 7 October.

The press freedom watchdog said that freelance journalist Salam Mema is among the 11 Palestinian journalists killed in Gaza during that period. Her body was recovered from the rubble three days after her home was hit in an Israeli airstrike in Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza on 10 October.

“Mema held the position of head of the Women Journalists Committee at the Palestinian Media Assembly, an organization committed to advancing media work for Palestinian journalists,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

The New York-based group said that three Israeli journalists were killed on 7 October: Shai Regev, an editor for Maariv; Ayelet Arnin, a news editor with Israel’s public broadcaster; and Yaniv Zohar, a photojournalist for Israel Hayom, who was killed along with his wife and two daughters.

Issam Abdallah, a videographer for Reuters, was killed when Israeli shelling targeted a group of journalists marked as press near the Lebanese border on 13 October.

Israel says that 1,300 people were killed in the 7 October surprise attack led by the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. However, evidence is emerging that a significant number died not at the hands of Palestinians, but from Israeli police and military fire.

Israel says that 199 people were captured and taken into Gaza on 7 October, though Hamas officials gave higher figures on Monday.

Israel says that it is holding the bodies of 1,500 Palestinian fighters killed during the 7 October attack. An unknown number of those who Israel claims were militants may have actually been unarmed civilians from Gaza.

Israel said on Monday that military forensic teams examining the bodies of people killed in the 7 October attack “found multiple signs of torture, rape and other atrocities.”

Israeli military officers repeated thus far unsubstantiated claims that children were beheaded.

In its report on the new claims on Monday, Reuters said “the military personnel overseeing the identification process didn’t present any forensic evidence in the form of pictures or medical records.”

Call for international investigation

While serious abuses surely did occur during the 7 October attack, sensational claims made by the Israeli military on Monday may be another attempt to justify atrocity crimes in Gaza.

Shawan Jabarin, the director of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, called for an international independent investigation on Monday.

Speaking from Ramallah, Jabarin condemned the EU and US for facilitating Israel’s “aggression on the civilian population in Gaza,” which he said “reached the threshold for the crime of genocide.”

Jabarin urged third states to pressure Israel to “allow the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry to enter and investigate all crimes committed regardless of the perpetrators.”

Israel continued to target residential buildings in its nonstop bombardment of Gaza between late Sunday and Monday.

The UN said that 10 Palestinians were killed in a strike targeting a residential building in Jabaliya; at least 11 Palestinians, including women and children, were killed in the Musabah area of Rafah in Gaza’s south; and 11 Palestinians were killed when a charity organization’s building was hit in Rafah.

On Monday morning, 22 Palestinians were killed when Israel targeted a residential building in Khan Younis.

The UN said that “several attacks occurred in close proximity to a hospital and main roads, creating significant access challenges.”

Seven members of the civil defense were killed when they were targeted in Israeli strikes east of Gaza City and in the Tel al-Hawa area south of Gaza City early Monday.

Palestinians are meanwhile rationing whatever food, water and cooking gas they still have.

Mohammed Ghounim, a doctor at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital, said that the current aggression in Gaza is like none other that people there had gone through before, and that the overwhelming number of casualties being received at the hospital are civilians.
He said that the most difficult aspect is writing a number on the body of an injured child because their identity is not known.

He warned of additional casualties if hospitals, which are being powered by emergency generators, run out of fuel. Meanwhile, 2,500 people were sheltering at al-Shifa hospital, the largest health facility in Gaza.

“This is an urgent appeal. Please, if you are a human … please stop this. Save Gaza, please support Gaza.”

Bags of food aid are carried on a donkey cart in front of bakery with long queue

Palestinians queue in front of a bakery in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, 16 October.

Atia Darwish APA images

On Monday, UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, denied reports that one of its Gaza warehouses had been looted.

Israeli media reported that UNRWA had tweeted that fuel and medical equipment had been removed by the Gaza health ministry without authorization before deleting the tweets.

In an “urgent clarification,” UNRWA said that the images circulating on social media showed a routine transfer of medical supplies to its health partners.

Meanwhile, footage showed an UNRWA warehouse that was said to have been hit in an Israeli strike overnight Sunday:

Gisha, an Israeli human rights group that monitors the Gaza siege, said on Monday that it was not yet clear “how much water, if any, Israel is allowing into Gaza” after it was reported on Sunday that Israel had resumed delivery of water to the southern Gaza Strip.

Water cannot be pumped and distributed without electricity and damage to water infrastructure from Israeli bombardment “will make it difficult to access water even if the electricity and fuel is restored,” Gisha said.

The group noted that “the last of Gaza’s water desalination facilities shut down yesterday for lack of electricity.”

Rafah crossing still closed

Israeli warplanes bombed Rafah crossing along the Egypt-Gaza boundary for the fourth time while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was meeting with Israel’s emergency cabinet in Tel Aviv on Monday.

On Sunday, Blinken said that an agreement had been reached to open Rafah crossing on Monday morning to let foreign passport-holders out of Gaza and let desperately needed humanitarian aid into the territory.

The Egyptian group Sinai for Human Rights said on Monday that Israel targeted the barriers on the Egyptian side. Those barriers were put there by Egypt last week to prevent a feared mass exodus of Palestinians from Gaza to the Sinai.

A video shows the explosion at the wall:
Hundreds of tons of supplies are stuck on the Egypt side of the border. Egyptian authorities blamed Israel for refusing to allow the movement of goods and foreign nationals through Rafah.
Fears that Israel intends to expel Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt have been reinforced by Israeli military leaders who say that their goal is to render Gaza uninhabitable for its population of 2.3 million, half of whom are children.

Giora Eiland, a reservist major general, stated that “creating a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a necessary means to achieve the goal.”

“Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist,” he added.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog and other political and military figures – echoed by some politicians in the US – have held all Palestinians in Gaza collectively responsible for the 7 October attack.
Meanwhile, Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s ambassador to the UK, denied that there was a humanitarian crisis in Gaza in an interview with Sky News and then became defensive when pressed on the issue.
“Your children come as priority to your prime minister,” she said, even though Israel’s revenge campaign in Gaza will only delay the return of captured Israelis – if it doesn’t end up killing them along with thousands of Palestinians.

Israel evacuates settlements near Lebanon

Israel announced on Monday that residents of 28 settlements in close proximity to the border with Lebanon would be evacuated.

Cross-border fire between the Israeli military and Hizballah in Lebanon have raised fears of a regional escalation. Some two dozen communities in the south of Israel near the Gaza boundary have already been evacuated, including the city of Sderot.

“A large proportion of Ashkelon’s residents have also reportedly left,” the UN said.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration in Washington was “deploying more offensive forces into the Middle East, to back Israel and attempt to deter Iran and Hizballah from opening a second front on Israel’s north,” the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz reported on Monday. CNN meanwhile reported that the US was sending 2,000 Marines and sailors to join the warships it has already sent to the eastern Mediterranean.

The Biden administration has put on a big show of seemingly unconditional solidarity for Israel and has demonized Palestinians and parroted Israeli propaganda to manufacture consent for the genocidal campaign underway in Gaza.

On Monday, Blinken made a joint appearance with Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant, who called Palestinians in Gaza “human animals” when declaring a complete siege on the territory last week.

Gallant said that “this will be a long war; the price will be high. But we are going to win for Israel and the Jewish people, and for the values that both countries believe in.”

US President Joe Biden is traveling to Israel to make a display of support on Wednesday.

But behind the scenes, US officials are reportedly pressing Israel to determine an endgame. The Biden administration is surely aware that the situation could rapidly escalate and “embroil the United States in a broader regional war that will cost more American lives,” as Sam Heller and Thanassis Cambanis state in an analysis for The Century Foundation.

Biden said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that Israel taking full control of Gaza again would be a “mistake.” Citing American and Israeli officials, Washington is concerned with who will run the territory “if and when Hamas is removed,” The Times of Israel reported on Monday.

Hamas releases video of captive

Abu Obeida, the spokesperson for the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said on Monday that more than 200 people captured in the 7 October attack are being held in Gaza.

He said that Hamas was holding 200 of the captives and that as many as 50 additional captives were being held by other factions. Islamic Jihad has previously said that it is holding 30 captives.

He said that the captives were being treated humanely and that “they eat what we eat, and they drink what we drink.”

Israeli airstrikes had killed 22 captives, Abu Obeida said, most recently a 26-year-old artist from Tel Aviv.

He said that foreign nationals being held captive in Gaza “are our guests” and that they would be protected and released “when circumstances allow.”

But the Qassam spokesperson said that foreign nationals who had joined the Israeli army to fight against the Palestinian people would be treated like Israeli soldiers regardless of any other nationality they hold.

The Qassam Brigades also released its first video of one of the captives. The video shows a woman who identifies herself as Maya Sham and who says in Hebrew that she was captured in the Sderot area.

The video shows Sham being treated for an injury to her hand.

“They’ve been taking care of me, providing medication,” she says and asks “please get me out of here as quickly as possible.”

Khaled Meshaal, the head of Hamas’ diaspora office, said in a lengthy interview with AlAraby TV on Monday that the captives include high-ranking officers from the Israeli military’s Gaza Division.

He said that the resistance has enough captives to free all 6,000 Palestinians being held in Israeli jails and prisons.

Both Meshaal and Abu Obeida reaffirmed that Palestinians in Gaza would not be uprooted. The Qassam spokesperson said that a threatened ground invasion “does not intimidate us” and would provide the resistance with an opportunity to punish the enemy for its crimes.

Meshaal said that an expulsion of Palestinians to Egypt was not only contrary to the interests of that country, but also to Jordan, implying that an ethnic cleansing of the West Bank would come next.

Meshaal indicated that resistance was now the only path to liberation since all attempts at a peace process have failed for decades. He expressed confidence that Israel’s vows to destroy Hamas would fail, asserting that it had tried numerous times to destroy the resistance and had emerged defeated.

Underlining that Hamas did not stand alone, he said that Hizballah “thankfully took steps” since the current confrontation began, but said that “the battle requires more.”

That may soon come, as Iran’s foreign minister said on Monday that “preventive action” by the resistance axis may happen in a matter of hours.

Calls for Hamas to release captives

Echoing the UN secretary-general, the world body’s humanitarian aid chief Martin Griffiths called on Monday for the immediate release of Israelis and foreign nationals being held in Gaza.

EU leaders also called for the immediate release of captives without preconditions.

The International Committee of the Red Cross told Israeli media that it was “speaking directly with senior Hamas officials to demand access to Israeli hostages,” The Times of Israel reported.

Israeli media, citing foreign diplomatic sources, reported on Monday that talks have been underway to secure the release of some of the captive.

The Israeli military says that 199 civilians and soldiers captured on 7 October are being held in Gaza. The Israeli government has prioritized exacting revenge in Gaza and reestablishing deterrence over the release of the captives, saying that negotiations would take place only after the war.

Supporters of Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to have crashed a meeting between the prime minister and families whose relatives are being held in Gaza.

Netanyahu has come under fierce criticism in Israel for not taking responsibility for the government’s failure to prevent the 7 October attack. He did not meet with the families of captives held in Gaza for more than a week.

Representatives of five families were present at the meeting that was coordinated with the prime minister’s office at short notice. According to Israeli media, members of a family unknown to the organization representing the families of captives and missing persons joined the meeting.

One of the members of the family unknown to the organization that coordinated the meeting said that he loves his daughter as much as the others love their family members. “But at the end we have to look at the people of Israel and the future of our existence here” – suggesting that he would rather that Israel pound Gaza than negotiate the release of the captives.

An Israeli journalist whose family members were being held in Gaza accused Netanyahu of deliberately drawing divisions between the families of captives.

Netanyahu’s office denied planting people in the meeting.

Meanwhile, parents of Israelis being held in Gaza who are camped outside of the Israeli defense ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, demanding that Netanyahu prioritize their release, are being attacked and threatened by Israelis who want to see the continued annihilation of Gaza.

The father of a captive was even told “I hope your daughter dies” by an apparently right-wing activist, according to Israeli media reports.


Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.