Dozens of people were killed and hundreds more were wounded during Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip over the weekend, Palestinian officials said as Israel and the militant resistance group Palestinian Islamic Jihad declared a truce late Sunday night.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said Sunday that so far 44 people, including at least 15 children and four women, died during the 66-hour Israeli onslaught—officially called Operation Breaking Dawn—in which militants also reportedly fired at least hundreds of rockets at Israel, resulting in three light injuries. The ministry said that 360 other Palestinians were wounded during the attacks, which ended with the 11:30 pm truce.
“Let those numbers sink in,” tweeted Marwa Fatafta, a Berlin-based Palestinian writer, researcher, and senior policy analyst at the digital rights group Access Now.
Jehad Abusalim, the education and policy coordinator at the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker peace group, tweeted: “Fifteen kids. Born into a brutal blockade. Their lives defined by wars, bombardments, trauma, fear, poverty, isolation, and dehumanization by the rest of the world.”
A 16th child—10-year-old Haneen Abu Qaida—died Monday of injuries sustained during a Saturday Israeli attack that also killed her mother, Palestine’s Wafa News Agency reports.
“And we failed them,” Abusalim said of the children killed. “During the last war, and the wars before, we promised not to give Gaza seasonal attention anymore. The last aggression ended, and we forgot about Gaza again. We went back to our work and busy lives, like these kids went back to their schools and whatever kids do in Gaza, but unlike the last time.”
“This time,” he added, “when we go back to our work and busy lives, 15 kids in Gaza won’t go back to their schools and whatever kids in Gaza do. Israel killed them, and Israel will get away with it.”
The Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq—one of six humanitarian associations dubiously declared “terrorist organizations” by Israel—said in a statement Sunday that Israel had “indiscriminately targeted civilians and nonmilitary structures” and that the assault constituted “a grave breach of international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is considered a terrorist group by Israel, the United States, and others, said Monday that 12 members of its military wing, including two top commanders, were killed during the Israeli operation.
In a Sunday evening media briefing, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Gen. Ran Kochav said the military believes Israeli strikes killed 35 people in Gaza during the operation, 11 of them civilians.
Kochav also claimed that Islamic Jihad’s rockets killed more Gazans than IDF attacks, which struck 170 targets in the densely populated strip, roughly twice the size of Washington, D.C., where more than two million Palestinians live.
However, observers asserted that given the IDF’s record of targeting civilians and subsequently lying about it, its claims cannot be trusted.
U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday professed his “unwavering” support for Israel while condemning the “indiscriminate rocket attacks launched by the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad” and praising the “steady leadership” Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and his government. Biden also called for a “timely and thorough investigation” of civilian casualties.
Biden added that he is “proud” of the $1 billion in U.S. support for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, which IDF officials said intercepted around 380 rockets fired by Gaza-based militants. The IDF also claimed that around 200 projectiles failed to clear the Israeli border and landed inside Gaza.
James J. Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute, tweeted that “it’s outrageous that the Biden administration gave Israel ‘full-throated support’ for its murderous ‘preemptive’ assault on Palestinians in Gaza.”
“Israel started it, egged it on, and Palestinians were sitting ducks,” he added, lamenting that the “U.S. denounces Russia for crimes but absolves Israeli crimes. Double standard.”
Since 2008, Israeli forces have waged four wars in Gaza in which more than 6,000 Palestinians were killed, according to figures from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Last year, during the most recent of those wars, Israeli attacks killed at least 129 civilians, including 66 children.
Over the course of the 21st century, more than 2,200 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli military, police, and settler-colonist attacks, according to the group Defense for Children International.