Teacher, Children Among Slain as Gaza Toll Rises

The death toll of the Israeli war against the Gaza Strip continues to rise today, with Israeli officials promising a protracted offensive and patting themselves on the back for doing so. And while the war started with the assassination of a Hamas military leader, the more recent deaths suggest the strikes are having a big impact on Gaza’s civilian population.

Israeli violence has left 24 dead and 200 wounded in Gaza. A total of three Israelis have died from rocket-fire coming out of Gaza.

Marwan Abu El Qumsan, a teacher at a UN school, is among the victims, and the UN has had to close its schools because of the growing attacks. Children were also the victims of Israeli attacks, including the 11-month-old son of BBC editor Jihad Misharawi.

The exact split between fighters and civilians in the death toll is unclear, but it seems apparent that civilians are dying at a higher rate, and the massive numbers of wounded in attacks on residential areas seem dramatically skewed toward civilian bystanders.

Egypt’s prime minister, Hesham Kandil, visited Gaza to see the destruction and draw attention to the suffering on the Palestinian side, which is unfortunately underreported.

“No one can remain still and watch this tragedy unfold in this fashion,” Kandil said. “This is impossible. The whole world must intervene, and Israel must abide by the agreements and stop the aggression.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shrugged off complaints about the civilian toll, insisting there was no “moral symmetry” between Israeli air strikes killing civilians and Gaza rocket attacks doing so. Netanyahu added that he saw a photo of a bleeding Israeli baby and this proved there was no comparison. It was unclear if he saw the pictures of Misharawi’s slain infant son.

No End in Sight as Civilians Feel Impact of War

by Jason Ditz

UN Chief: Israeli Blockade on Gaza Bolsters Extremists in the Region

Several experts have concluded the impoverishing economic blockade violates international law

Israel’s long-standing blockade of Gaza is serving only to impoverish the people and play into the hands of extremists in the Middle East, according to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

“I urge Israel to lift its harsh restrictions in order to ease the plight of civilians and bring an end to the closure,” the UN chief declared in a speech to the UN’s Human Rights Council.

“Keeping a large and dense population in unremitting poverty is in nobody’s interest except that of the most extreme radicals in the region,” he added.

Israel claims the economic blockade on Gaza is in place for security reasons, but it includes purely economic and humanitarian resources as well as other non-military items including children’s toys.

Several fact-finding missions in Gaza, including one by the International Committee of the Red Cross, have claimed the blockade is illegal. It has subjected Gazans to collective punishment in “flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law.”

According to one UN special rapporteurs, about one third of Gaza’s arable land and 85 percent of its fishing waters are totally or partially inaccessible due to Israeli military measures, while at least two-thirds of Gazan households lack reliable access to food as a result of the blockade.

by John Glaser 

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