Ramallah, May 21, 2021—The body of a Palestinian toddler was found under the rubble of her home today, nine days after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, bringing the Palestinian child death toll in the Gaza Strip to 67 since May 10.
Mariam Mohammad Odeh Talbani, two years old, had been missing and presumed dead since May 12 until her body was located in rubble today, nine days after an Israeli airstrike on her home in Gaza City’s Tal Al-Hawa neighborhood, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine.
A missile fired by an Israeli warplane struck the third floor of the Salha residential building in Gaza City’s Tal Al-Hawa neighborhood around 1:30 a.m. on May 12. The attack also killed Mariam’s brother, four-year-old Zaid Mohammad Odeh Talbani and her mother, Rima, who was five months pregnant. 13-year-old Hala Hussein Rafat Rifi was killed in the same attack, as well as two other adults, DCIP reported.
DCIP has documented a total of 67 Palestinian children killed in the Gaza Strip since hostilities escalated on May 10.
After 11 days of escalated hostilities, Israeli and Palestinian officials have reached a ceasefire agreement, which took effect at 2 a.m. Friday morning, according to Reuters.
Since May 10, at least 230 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and at least 1,760 Palestinians injured, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Over 91,000 people have been displaced from their homes including 66,000 internally displaced persons who have sought protection in 58 UNRWA schools across the Gaza Strip. Some 258 buildings have been destroyed, including 1,042 housing units, while an additional 769 housing units have been rendered uninhabitable, OCHA reported.
Since the start of the hostilities in the Gaza Strip, six hospitals and 11 primary healthcare centers sustained partial damage and one Palestinian Ministry of Health primary healthcare center sustained severe damage, reported OCHA. Israeli forces have also damaged essential infrastructure, including roads leading to two main hospitals.
At least 51 education facilities, including 46 schools, two kindergartens, an UNRWA vocational training centre, a Palestinian Ministry of Education facility and the premises of the Islamic University sustained damage during the hostilities, OCHA reported. Schools were also closed for five days after the Eid al-Fitr holidays ended, impacting more than 591,000 children.
The latest escalation in hostilities between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups follows weeks of mounting tension and protracted legal battles as Israeli settlers, with Israeli government support, seek to expel hundreds of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinian-led protests against these planned expulsions have been met with state-sanctioned violence as Israeli police and paramilitary border police use excessive force against Palestinian protesters.
International humanitarian law prohibits indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks and requires all parties to an armed conflict to distinguish between military targets, civilians, and civilian objects. While Israel relies on the principle of self-defense to justify military offensives on Gaza, Israeli forces are bound to customary international law rules of proportionality and necessity. As the occupying power in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the Gaza Strip, Israel is required to protect the Palestinian civilian population from violence.