Ramallah, April 16, 2015—Defense for Children International Palestine today released a report, Operation Protective Edge: A War Waged on Children, detailing the high price paid by children during Israel’s assault on Gaza last summer.
Operation Protective Edge, which lasted 50 days between July 8 and August 26, claimed the lives of 2,220 Palestinians, including at least 1,492 civilians, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). DCIP independently verified the deaths of 547 Palestinian children among the killed in Gaza, 535 of them as a direct result of Israeli attacks. Nearly 68 percent of the children killed by Israeli forces were 12 years old or younger.
Five Israeli civilians, including a child, and 67 Israeli soldiers also lost their lives.
“Repeated Israeli military offensives and Israel’s complete disregard for international law have thwarted any meaningful efforts toward implementing comprehensive protections for Palestinian children,” said Khaled Quzmar, general director of DCIP. “The international community must demand an end to Israel's illegal blockade of Gaza and challenge systemic impunity by investigating allegations of war crimes and holding the perpetrators accountable.”
DCIP’s investigation into all Palestinian child fatalities during Operation Protective Edge found overwhelming and repeated evidence that Israeli forces committed grave violations against children amounting to war crimes. This included direct targeting of children by Israeli drone-fired missiles and attacks carried out against schools. Israel, the world’s largest exporter of aerial drones, killed 164 children in drone strikes during the conflict.
No day more clearly demonstrated the indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks that characterized the Israeli offensive than July 20, when Israeli air and ground forces killed at least 27 children in Gaza City’s Shuja’iyya neighborhood. An Israeli fighter jet also destroyed the Abu Jami family home in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis on the same day, killing 18 children. In total, 59 children across the Gaza Strip lost their lives in one of the deadliest days of Operation Protective Edge.
Evidence and testimonies collected by DCIP showed that there was no safe place for children in Gaza during the Israeli assault. Children were killed in their homes by Israeli missiles, while sheltering in schools by high-explosive Israeli artillery shells, and in the streets by Israeli drone-fired missiles and artillery shells as they attempted to escape the onslaught with their families.
Those who survived these attacks will continue to pay the price for many years. More than 1,000 children suffered injuries that rendered them permanently disabled, according to OCHA. Amputees like Mohammad Baroud, 12, who lost both his feet in an explosion that killed 11 of his neighbors, will require lifelong medical care and support.
For the children who managed to escape physical injury, the psychological effects of this latest operation have been severe and resounding. Many have lost one or both parents, or other family members. Some have lost their entire extended families. All have experienced violence, fear and instability at close quarters.
The international community has persistently failed to hold Israeli forces or officials accountable for grave human rights violations against Palestinian children. In order to end impunity and increase protections for children, DCIP strongly urges the international community to immediately call on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to include Israel's armed forces in the annex of his annual report on children and armed conflict, which lists armed forces and groups for committing grave violations against children.
DCIP and other Palestinian human rights organizations previously called on UN Secretary-General to "list" Israel's armed forces as part of the UN Security Council's children and armed conflict agenda.