Ramallah, May 20, 2021—Israeli aerial attacks killed two Palestinian girls in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, increasing the Palestinian child death toll in the Gaza Strip to 66 since hostilities escalated May 10.
A Palestinian toddler and both of her parents were killed in Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza when an Israeli missile struck their apartment Wednesday afternoon. On Wednesday evening, an Israeli weaponized aerial drone killed a 10-year-old girl in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine.
An Israeli aerial attack around 4 p.m. on May 19, struck the second-floor apartment where two-year-old Nagham Iyad Abdulfattah Salha lived with her parents, killing each of them and severely damaging the apartment, according to documentation gathered by DCIP. Nagham’s father, Iyad, was disabled and required a wheelchair, and her mother, Imhawish, was eight months pregnant. DCIP continues to investigate whether the missile was fired by an Israeli warplane or a weaponized aerial drone.
Dima Sa'd Ali Asaliya, 10, was returning from her sister's house adjacent to her family home in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip around 8 p.m. on May 19, when she was killed in an Israeli drone missile strike on the street. Her body was covered in shrapnel wounds, and she was transported to Indonesian hospital where she was pronounced dead, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Dima had gone to bring an electric cooker the family used to bake bread from her sister’s house and was returning home when she was killed, her uncle told DCIP.
DCIP has documented 64 other Palestinian children killed in the Gaza Strip since hostilities escalated on May 10. At least one Palestinian child remains unaccounted for, and while presumed dead, DCIP has not yet confirmed her death.
After 11 days of escalated hostilities, Israeli and Palestinian officials have reached a ceasefire agreement, which is set to take 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.