Nearly 300 Palestinian children killed in Gaza: UN
“Children make up 30 per cent of the civilian casualties,” the UN children’s agency Unicef said.
It said the toll was based on deaths which it was able to verify and was likely to rise.
“The number of child casualties during the last 48 hours may rise as a number of incidents are pending verification,” the agency said.
Unicef stressed that its figures were “cross-checked to the best extent possible in the current situation ... subject to change based on further verifications.”
“Between July 8 and August 2, 2014 (up until 11:00), at least 296 Palestinian children were reported killed as a result of airstrikes and shelling by Israel aerial, naval and ground forces,” it said.
The toll breaks down to 187 boys and 109 girls, with at least 203 of them under the age of 12.
More than 1,650 Palestinians in the Gaza enclave have been killed since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge last month, aimed at halting militant rocket fire.
Gazan human rights groups say at least 80 per cent of the more than 1,600 Palestinians killed so far have been non-combatants, including hundreds of children.
More than 8,900 Gazans have been wounded in Israeli attacks.
The UN Human Rights Council last week accused the Israelis of “disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks” and launched an inq
However, Israel’s deputy foreign minister said on Saturday that it had evidence that almost half of Palestinians killed were combatants.
“There is research being done in the military, very professionally and reliably, [whose] conclusion is that at least 47 per cent of the fatalities are terrorists, with photographs and names,” Tzachi Hanegbi told Israel’s Channel Two television, adding that the data would be presented to investigators.
He did not elaborate. Israel rejected the UN Human Rights Council’s probe announcement, describing the forum as biased, but usually conducts its own combat inquiries.
Israel says Hamas and other Palestinian guerrillas in Gaza are terrorists and in past conflicts has used broad definitions of combatants – including, for example, Palestinian policemen working for the Hamas administration.
Israel, which has lost 63 soldiers and three civilians to the fighting, also claims that it has done everything possible to avoid harming innocents and that Gaza’s dominant Hamas Islamists invite such casualties by operating in densely populated areas.
* Agence France-Presse and Reuters
Published: August 2, 2014 04:00 AM