Eleven children having treatment to help them deal with trauma were killed by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in recent days, according to an independent humanitarian organisation.
They were among more than 60 youngsters who have died in the territory since the latest wave of attacks between Palestinian militants and Israel erupted on Monday last week.
The Israeli military insists it targets – with precision – Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants who fire rockets towards the country, and the groups’ infrastructure.
Israel says civilian casualties are unintentional, and in one incident its jets attacked a tunnel system used by militants, which collapsed, causing nearby homes to also come down.
More than 3,400 rockets have been fired from civilian areas in Gaza aimed at civilian targets in Israel. Most are intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system.
Over 200 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli air and artillery strikes, while 12 people in Israel, including a five-year-old boy and a soldier, have died in the militant rocket attacks.
US President Joe Biden said Israel has the right to defend itself against indiscriminate attacks but encouraged it to make every effort to protect civilians.
The 11 children being treated for trauma were aged between five and 15 and were killed in their homes in densely populated areas along with other relatives who died or were injured, said the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
It claimed the youngsters were participating in its psycho-social programme.
Victims included Lina Iyad Sharir, 15, who was killed with both of her parents in their home on 11 May in Gaza City’s Al Manara neighbourhood.
Hala Hussein al Rifi, 13, was killed on the night of 12 May when an airstrike hit the Salha residential building in Gaza City’s Tal Al-Hawa neighbourhood, according to the NRC.
The attack also killed four-year-old Zaid Mohammad Telbani and his mother Rima, who was five months pregnant. Zaid’s sister remains missing and is presumed dead.
Multiple air raids on 16 May in Al Wahda Street in central Gaza City killed eight children that the NRC worked with, together with several family members.
These included Tala Ayman Abu al Auf, 13, and her 17-year-old brother. Their father, Dr Ayman Abu al Auf, was the head of internal medicine at Gaza City’s Shifa hospital and he was also killed.
The same attacks also killed Rula Mohammad al Kawlak, five, Yara, nine, and Hala, 12 – all sisters – together with their cousin Hana, 14, and several other of their relatives, as well as sisters Dima and Mira Rami al-Ifranji, 15 and 11, and neighbour Dana Riad Hasan Ishkantna, nine.
In the same area on 17 May, Rafeef Murshed Abu Dayer, 10, another student helped by the NRC, was killed after shrapnel hit her together with her two brothers, who were having lunch in the garden of the Ghazi Shawa building.
The NRC’s secretary general Jan Egeland said: “We are devastated to learn that 11 children we were helping with trauma were bombarded while they were at home and thought they were safe.
“They are now gone, killed with their families, buried with their dreams and the nightmares that haunted them. We call on Israel to stop this madness: children must be protected.
“Their homes must not be targets. Schools must not be targets. Spare these children and their families. Stop bombing them now.”
With the conflict showing no sign of abating, Palestinians across the region have gone on a general strike in a rare collective action against Israel’s policies.
Violence erupted at protests in the occupied West Bank, including in the city of Ramallah.
Hundreds of Palestinians burned tyres and threw stones toward an Israeli military checkpoint. Troops fired tear gas canisters at the crowd and protesters picked up some of them and hurled them back.
One protester was killed and more than 70 others wounded – including 16 by live fire – in clashes with Israeli troops in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and other cities, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
The Israeli army said two soldiers were wounded by gunshots to the leg.
Subscribe to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
At least 213 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli airstrikes since Monday last week, including 61 children and 36 women, with more than 1,440 people wounded, according to the Gaza health ministry.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad say at least 20 of their fighters have been killed in the fighting, while Israel says the number is at least 160.
Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, says nearly 47,000 Palestinians have fled their homes during the airstrikes.
And he welcomed Israel’s decision to open Gaza’s main commercial crossing, allowing essential supplies to flow in for the first time since the conflict broke out on 10 May.
Source: Read Full Article