Gaza Crisis Update (July 17, 2014)
PHOTO: Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
- Since July 7, Israel has killed at least 222 Palestinians in Gaza.
- According to the United Nations:
- Of the dead, at least 164 (approximately 77%) have been civilians, including 44 children and 29 women.
- 1585 Palestinians have been injured, including 435 children and 282 women.
- 1660 homes have been destroyed or severely damaged, directly displacing 9900 people.
- 22,600 displaced people have taken shelter at schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
- At least 25,000 children traumatized by the death or injury of a family member, or loss of a home, require specialized psychosocial (PSS) support.
- At least 2000 farmers and their families who are unable to access their lands or livestock are in need of urgent food assistance.
- At least 79 schools and 23 health facilities have been damaged by Israeli attacks. One doctor has been killed and at least 19 medical staff injured, and at least four ambulances damaged.
NOTABLE INCIDENTS OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES
- On July 16, four young boys were killed and three others injured, all cousins, by Israeli shelling on the beach in Gaza City. The dead were Ahed Atef Bakr and Zakariya Ahed Bakr, who were ten years old, eleven-year-old Mohammad Ramiz Bakr, and nine-year-old Ismail Mahmoud Bakr.
- On July 13, 18 members of the same family, including six children and three women, one of them pregnant, were killed, and 16 others injured by Israel in an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Gaza’s chief of police by attacking his cousin’s home.
- On July 12, an Israeli airstrike killed two residents of a special needs facility in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza and seriously wounded several others. The dead were 31-year-old Ola Washahi and 47-year-old Suha Abu Saada, who both suffered from severe mental and physical handicaps.
- On July 10, Israeli forces killed 8 members of the Al Haj family, including five children, during an attack on their home in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.
- On July 9, Israeli forces killed at least 9 civilians and wounded 16 others as they watched the World Cup at the Fun Time Beach café in southern Gaza.
SHORTAGES OF MEDICAL SPECIALISTS & SUPPLIES
- According to the UN, Gazan medical facilities urgently require:
- Specialists in neurosurgery, anesthesiology, plastic surgery, general trauma surgery, advanced orthopedics and burn management.
- 50 essential drug items and 20 disposables.
- Psycho-tropic drugs, used for patients with mental illness, trauma and anxiety, half of which are at zero stock.
- Eight anesthesia machines, ten ventilators, five electrosurgical units, 20 vital sign monitors, ECG machines, 5 defibrillator machines.
SHORTAGE OF WATER SUPPLIES & DAMAGE TO SEWAGE & SANITATION SYSTEMS
- Israeli attacks have caused severe damage to water and sewage supplies, and ongoing bombing is preventing infrastructure from being repaired and operated.
- 900,000 people have no water supply because of damage done to infrastructure that can’t be repaired because of the ongoing assault.
- Only an estimated 50% of Gaza’s sewage pumping and waste water treatment systems are functioning. As a result, the UN has warned: “The mixing of sewage and water, due to damaged pipelines crossing each other, raises the risk for water borne diseases.”
- On July 15, the International Committee of the Red Cross issued a press release entitled Gaza: Water in the line of fire, which read in part:
“Hospitals, refugee camps, schools, and homes all need water and electricity in order to function, but recent attacks have put water and electrical systems out of action. To make matters worse, the intensified fighting is preventing technicians from carrying out essential repairs. Following the deaths of several municipal water technicians over the past few days, Gaza’s water service provider has suspended all field operations until the safety of its staff can be guaranteed.”
“’Gaza's water system has been deteriorating for years. The latest attacks are the last straw. Safe drinking water is becoming increasingly scarce in the Strip, just as temperatures are soaring. Water is becoming contaminated and sewage is overflowing, bringing a serious risk of disease,’ said ICRC water and sanitation expert Guillaume Pierrehumbert. ‘In recent days, ICRC teams have helped the authorities conduct essential emergency repairs to water and sanitation infrastructure in Gaza, improving the situation for over 90,000 people, but bolder action is urgently required.’”
STATEMENTS/REPORTS FROM HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS
- On July 16, Human Rights Watch issued a report entitled Unlawful Israeli Airstrikes Kill Civilians: Bombings of Civilian Structures Suggest Illegal Policy. It read in part:
“Israeli air attacks in Gaza investigated by Human Rights Watch have been targeting apparent civilian structures and killing civilians in violation of the laws of war. Israel should end unlawful attacks that do not target military objectives and may be intended as collective punishment or broadly to destroy civilian property. Deliberate or reckless attacks violating the laws of war are war crimes.
“Israeli attacks in Gaza since July 7, 2014, which Israeli officials said delivered more than 500 tons of explosives in missiles, aerial bombs, and artillery fire, killed at least 178 people and wounded 1,361 as of July 14, including 635 women and children, according to the United Nations.
“’Israel’s rhetoric is all about precision attacks but attacks with no military target and many civilian deaths can hardly be considered precise,’ said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. ‘Recent documented cases in Gaza sadly fit Israel’s long record of unlawful airstrikes with high civilian casualties.’”
“Human Rights Watch investigated four Israeli strikes during the July military offensive in Gaza that resulted in civilian casualties and either did not attack a legitimate military target or attacked despite the likelihood of civilian casualties being disproportionate to the military gain. Such attacks committed deliberately or recklessly constitute war crimes under the laws of war applicable to all parties. In these cases, the Israeli military has presented no information to show that it was attacking lawful military objectives or acted to minimize civilian casualties.”
- On July 16, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued a statement condemning “in the strongest terms the Israeli government’s indiscriminate killing and collective punishment of civilians in the Gaza Strip and [calling] on the Obama administration to press for an immediate cease-fire on all sides that takes into account the need to end the inhumane and unlawful seven-year closure of Gaza.” The statement continued:
“The blockade has resulted in severe shortages of water, food, electricity and medical supplies, the denial of freedom of movement to the Palestinians of Gaza and near economic collapse. As of today, 158 Palestinian civilians have been killed in this latest assault, including 36 children and 29 women; over a thousand have been injured, mostly civilians. A center for people with disabilities, a mosque and a hospital have been shelled, and hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed, causing the displacement of thousands of civilians.
“This aggression is possible only because of unqualified U.S. diplomatic, economic, and military support for the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestine and apartheid policies in the region. Last Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution in support of Israel’s ‘right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel’ yet made no mention of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, the scores of Palestinian civilians killed nor Israel's mass destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure and housing; a similar Senate resolution is scheduled for committee mark up today, Wednesday, July 16.
“Meaningful pressure by the U.S. government on Israel, including withdrawal of its unconditional support, is the first step to stop further senseless loss of life. But to help break the cycle of continued occupation, repression and violence, the entire international community must also seek meaningful accountability for the serious violations of international law that have occurred.”