724 Palestinian children killed in Gaza as Israel targets civilians

Oct 14, 2023
Palestinians with their belongings leave Gaza City as they flee from their homes following the Israeli army's warning on October 13, 2023. Palestinians carried belongings through the rubble-strewn streets of Gaza City on October 13 in search of refuge as Israel's army warned residents to flee immediately before an expected ground offensive. (Photo by Mahmud Hams / AFP)

Ramallah, October 14, 2023—More than 724 Palestinian children have been killed by the Israeli military’s relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip since October 7. 

Israeli forces bombarded convoys of Palestinian evacuees yesterday as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip fled south after Israeli authorities warned them to evacuate from the north ahead of a suspected ground invasion. At least 70 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli attacks, reportedly mostly women and children. At least one of the Israeli airstrikes happened on Salah-al-Din street, which is one of two evacuation routes from north Gaza to the south, according to the BBC.

The Israeli military issued an evacuation order late on October 12, dropping leaflets and calling Palestinian residents in northern Gaza that gave the 1.1 million Palestinians living in northern Gaza only 24 hours to evacuate to the south. The Israeli evacuation order caused mass panic in Gaza as families try to flee to the south, even though there is no safe route or destination amid destroyed roads and continued Israeli airstrikes and shelling. Many families are fleeing on foot, while others remain in the north as Israeli authorities have given no indication that Palestinians who flee will be allowed to return. Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary General, called for the order to be rescinded to avoid “what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation.”

The Israeli evacuation order applied to all United Nations staff and those sheltered in UN facilities – including schools, health centers and clinics. At least 40,000 internally displaced Palestinians have taken refuge at Shifa Hospital, located in Gaza City, according to news media reports. Families have set up blankets in the corridors, outside on the hospital grounds, and around clinics. Many civilians, including hospital staff, are refusing to leave, according to news media reports.

Israeli forces unleashed a massive military offensive on the Gaza Strip on Saturday after Palestinian armed groups fired rockets toward Israel and breached the Israeli perimeter fence surrounding Gaza early on October 7, launching attacks inside Israel. Israeli forces initiated a large-scale military operation dubbed Operation Iron Swords. 

At least 2,215 Palestinians, including at least 724 children, have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Saturday morning, and another 8,714 are injured, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza. DCIP is working to document additional attacks and killings. Israeli forces and settlers killed 15 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank since October 7, including seven children on October 13 alone.

Intensive Israeli bombardment throughout the Gaza Strip, lack of electricity, Israeli airstrikes on telecommunications infrastructure, and the unprecedented rate of daily child fatalities has resulted in a lag between documented child fatalities by DCIP and the overall total child fatalities published regularly by the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

The exact number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Gaza is no longer known, according to UN OCHA. As of October 12, over 423,378 people in the Gaza strip had fled their homes as mass displacement escalates with intensifying Israeli attacks. More than 262,000 internally displaced Palestinians are sheltering in 102 United Nations schools and premises throughout the Gaza Strip, while over 153,000 Palestinians, whose homes have been destroyed or damaged, are hosted by relatives and neighbors. However, since the Israeli military issued an evacuation order for northern Gaza and countless families are fleeing, it is impossible to estimate the number of IDPs. 

Since October 11 at 2 p.m. Gaza has experienced a full electricity blackout after Israeli authorities cut the electricity and fuel supply on October 7 and the Gaza Power Plant depleted its reserves, according to UN OCHA. The lack of electricity has exacerbated the existing food crisis as refrigeration is not possible and irrigation and agricultural activity has ground to a halt. 

Israeli authorities cut water supply to Gaza on October 9, and since then, all three water desalination plants in Gaza have been forced to cease operations, according to UN OCHA. The vast majority of Palestinians in Gaza have no access to clean drinking water, and some have resorted to drinking dirty well water, raising concerns for waterborne diseases.

Israeli airstrikes have destroyed two of the three main lines for mobile communication in the Gaza Strip, according to UN OCHA. The Palestinian Telecommunications Company (Paltel) is still able to provide minimal internet connectivity across Gaza, but fears connection will be completely lost if there is any additional damage to the lines.

More than 1,300 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian armed group attacks since October 7, according to news media reports.

Under international law, genocide is prohibited and constitutes the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group, in whole or in part. Genocide can result from killing or by creating conditions of life that are so unbearable it brings about the group’s destruction.

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. Deploying explosive weapons in densely-populated civilian areas constitutes indiscriminate attacks and carrying out direct attacks against civilians or civilian objects amounts to war crimes.

Israeli authorities have imposed a closure policy against the Gaza Strip since 2007 by strictly controlling and limiting the entry and exit of individuals; maintaining harsh restrictions on imports including food, construction materials, fuel, and other essential items; as well as prohibiting exports. Israel continues to maintain complete control over the Gaza Strip’s borders, airspace, and territorial waters.

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