The 72-hour ceasefire had barely expired when Israeli airstrikes on Gaza resumed on Friday.
As Israel claimed it is targeting “terror sites,” its first victim was a ten-year-old child in Gaza City. Ibrahim Dawawsa was killed while playing with some friends in the yard of a mosque close to his home, when a missile ended his life and injured his two young friends.
During the nearly month-long military offensive on Gaza prior to the short ceasefire, Israel killed 448 children and injured 2,502, according to United Nations estimates. As of 8 August, the death toll in Gaza had reached 1,922.
Death toll rose even when bombing stopped
During each day of the ceasefire, the UN’s estimate of the number of children killed rose, as fieldworkers were able to recover the bodies of those killed — some buried in the rubble for weeks. One of the most serious incidents the UN discovered during the first 24 hours of the ceasefire was the badly decomposed bodies of eight members of the Wahdan family, left under a destroyed home in Beit Hanoun.
The dead, which included three children under the age of fifteen, four women and two people over sixty, are believed to have been killed by an airstrike soon after the Israeli ground invasion on 18 July. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights listed the names of the killed, which includes Ghena Younis Saqr, 2; Hussein Hatim, 9; Ahmed Hatim, 13; Zeinab Hatim, 22; Somoud Hatim, 22; Baghdad Hatim, 51; Suad Ahmed, 65; and Zaki Abdel, 67.
Defence for Children International-Palestine, an independent child-rights organization, is in the process of identifying and verifying each child killed in Gaza; thus far, the international organization has confirmed the deaths of 241 children.
Siblings killed together
In many of DCI-Palestine’s documented cases, children are killed while in their homes or attempting to flee to safety. Often, cases describe several young siblings or cousins killed together at once.
In one example, on 29 July, six children between the ages of four months and five years were killed by an Israeli missile in the al-Bureij refugee camp. From the Jabr family, siblings Leen Anwar Mohammad Abu Jabr, 3; Salma, 1; Mohammad Raed Mohammad Abu Jabr, 3; Sama, 1; Tuqa Salah Khalil Abu Isa, 4 months; and their cousin Hala Ahmad Hamdan Abu Jabr, 5, were all killed in one strike.
During this same attack, a pregnant woman had a miscarriage.
In another case, a single Israeli missile killed everyone inside a three-story building near Khan Younis, including nineteen children between the ages of one and sixteen years old.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs asserted that Israel’s targeting of nearly 1,000 civilian homes “raise[s] serious concerns about the targeting of civilians and civilian objects and the launching of indiscriminate attacks.”
While celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday on 28 July, Hind Imad Qadoura, eleven, her brother Yousef, ten, and their cousin Mohammad Musa Marzouq Elwan, four, were killed when Israel shelled their home in Jabaliya.
But there is no single story that tells how Israel has killed children.
Hazem Naim Mohammed Aqel, who DCI-Palestine describes as an orphan, was killed by a drone missile on 23 July when he went with his cousin to the grocery store in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City.
On 29 July, Mohammad Abdul-Nasser Mohammad al-Ghandour, fifteen, was hit by a piece of shrapnel from an strike on agricultrual land in Beit Lahia, killing him instantly.
Ibrahim Moatasem Ibrahim Kloub, four, was playing on his balcony with his mother when a drone missile flew into his family’s home, killing him and seriously injuring his mother.
These are just a few of the hundreds of child deaths that are being carefully documented by human rights organizations.
Dangers for pregnant women
The situation for pregnant women is particularly dire. Out of the estimated 46,000 pregnant women in Gaza, ten thousand are displaced. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza reports that 160 deliveries take place each day. The Israeli assault has caused a marked increase in premature births:
Women are giving birth under increasingly difficult conditions. Maternity clinics have been closed, as are a number of private maternity centers. Other facilities are overstrained. In some, maternity beds are being used to serve the wounded. Shifa hospital has reported a 15 to 20 per cent increase in premature births, which are linked to the stress of hostilities. Home deliveries are reportedly on the rise, increasing the risks for women and their babies.
The UN estimates that around 373,000 children are in need of immediate psychosocial support, observing that surviving children are “showing symptoms of increasing distress, including bed wetting, clinging to parents and nightmares.”
Olivia Watson, an advocacy officer with DCI-Palestine, warned of the long-term costs for surviving children in Gaza in the Israeli publication +972 Magazine:
For the children who manage to escape physical injury, the psychological effects of this latest operation will be hidden, but severe and resounding. Many have lost one or both parents, or other family members. Some have lost their entire extended families. All have experienced violence, fear and instability at close quarters.
Lists of fatalities … obscure the reality that awaits Palestinian children in Gaza. Those who survive will emerge to find their previous lives almost unrecognizable, as the families, schools, hospitals and mosques that framed their world are systematically destroyed.
As Israel’s assault continues, the number child victims continues to climb as well.