Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Of the 2.2 million people living in the Gaza Strip, about half of them are minors. This datum is why the rightwing Israeli talking point that Palestinians in Gaza as a whole are responsible for backing Hamas is outrageous. Hamas was elected in 2006 when most people in Gaza now either were minors or hadn’t been born. The top Hamas leadership admits that it planned out its October 7 atrocities as a small committee that did not consult the people of Gaza or anyone else.
The children of Gaza are among the most prominent victims of the Israeli bombing campaign, which has recklessly endangered Palestinian noncombatants by targeting apartment buildings, schools and hospitals.
Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign minister, said on Thursday that those Palestinian children who survive the bombardment could yet die of hunger. Before the current conflict, 500 aid trucks entered Gaza daily, but this flow has been cut to a trickle by the tightening Israeli blockade.
The Gaza Ministry of Health released basic statistics on Thursday, apparently in part in response to the skepticism expressed by President Joe Biden about the numbers of Palestinian dead. They released a spreadsheet with the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the victims of Israeli bombing that they have documented.
As of Thursday, 7,028 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli air strikes since they began after October 7, and 18,484 have been wounded. At least 2,913 of those killed were minors, 41.4% of the total dead. About twice that number of children have been wounded. If the Israeli bombing runs have managed to have roughly 40% of their victims be minors, then they are clearly indiscriminate and not targeted at only Hamas military installations.
Likewise, the decision of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to cut Gaza off from the potable water produced by desalinization plants has dire implications for infants and minors. Palestinians have been forced to drink well water from the Strip’s polluted aquifer, which has been contaminated with human waste, industrial chemicals and sea water from the rising Mediterranean. This water has negative health effects on adults, and if it is salty enough drinking it could lead to death by dehydration. But its effects on infants and children are more deadly than for adults. They could catch cholera from it where it is contaminated with human sewage, and they are more quickly dehydrated by drinking salt water. Although the Israeli government said that it had turned back on the water for south Gaza, things are not so simple. Hundreds of thousands of people still live in north Gaza. And in the south most places can’t pump the clean water into pipes without fuel, which Israel continues to ration. Moreover, the intensive bombing has broken many of the water pipes. Among Israel’s many war crimes, depriving civilian noncombatants of potable water is among the more heinous.
That the Israeli military is in fact simply leveling the entire infrastructure and much of the housing stock of parts of Gaza is clear in other statistics released on Thursday. Some 2,000 persons are thought to be buried under rubble. They are mostly dead by now, since most people can only survive 3 days without water. About 6,500 apartment buildings have been hit by Israeli bombardment, and 190,000 apartments (flats) have been damaged or destroyed. Some 29,000 housing units have been completely destroyed.
Israeli airstrikes have damaged or destroyed some 38 mosques, along with 3 churches. Speaking of children, the Israelis have damaged 189 schools, putting 25 of them entirely out of commission. The children who went to those 25 schools are out of the classroom now, with negative implications for their ability to study.
Of 481 Palestinians whom the Israelis killed in Gaza on Thursday, 219 were in the south. This and other information shows that the Israeli pledge not to bomb south Gaza was a lie. In fact, some of the refugees from the north who fled south at Israel’s instructions are now returning north, since the south was just as dangerous. Hundreds of thousands refused to leave the north to begin with.