The Israeli airstrikes against Palestinian militant targets in the Gaza Strip have entered their third consecutive day on May 12 2023, inflicting a heavy toll on both sides and further exacerbating the ongoing humanitarian crisis. The death toll has risen to 31, including seven children and four women, as international mediators struggle to broker a cease-fire and bring an end to the escalating violence.
The toll on civilian lives is terrible, with at least 30 Palestinians killed and numerous others wounded, as reported by the U.N. humanitarian office. Tragically, children have fallen victim to misfired Palestinian rockets, highlighting the indiscriminate nature of the violence. Condemnation from the Arab world, the United States, and Europe has been swift, with concerns mounting over the recurrent civilian casualties and the tactics employed by Israel.
Between Tuesday morning and Thursday evening, AOAV has recorded at least 74 civilian casualties throughout the Gaza strip, across 11 individual missile and rocket strikes. At least 13 civilians have been reported killed in these incidents, and 61 injured. AOAV has also recorded at least 10 Islamic Jihad members killed, and three injured.
Civilian casualties include at least 21 children.
In that time, strikes have been recorded in seven towns and cities, with Gaza City accounting for the majority of civilian casualties. 35 civilians were reported killed and injured there. Civilians were also killed and injured in Rafah (15 civilian casualties), Beit Hanoun (13), Khan Younis (7), Beit Lahia (2), and Qarara (2). All strikes were recorded in populated areas.
The conflict escalated yesterday when the Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched long-range rockets into Israel, claiming the life of a 70-year-old man. In response, the Israeli military swiftly retaliated by targeting Islamic Jihad rocket launchers.
The clashes have primarily involved Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second-largest militant group in Gaza after Hamas. Israel claims to have eliminated five senior Islamic Jihad figures, prompting retaliatory rocket attacks that have sown fear and chaos in parts of Israel. The Israeli military, in turn, has conducted relentless airstrikes, targeting numerous locations in Gaza, including rocket launch sites and militants preparing for further attacks.
The destruction inflicted on Gaza is evident, with 47 housing units reduced to rubble and another 19 rendered uninhabitable. This has left 165 Palestinians homeless, while nearly 300 homes have sustained varying degrees of damage, exacerbating an already dire housing crisis. The disproportionate impact on civilians has reignited debates over the use of heavy weaponry in densely populated areas.
Efforts to halt the violence and reach a cease-fire persist, with mediators from Egypt, Qatar, and the United Nations engaged in intensive diplomatic endeavours. While a relative calm on Friday offered a glimmer of hope, significant hurdles remain.
Dr Iain Overton from Action on Armed Violence, said of the deaths: “Amidst the relentless waves of armed violence, it is the innocent lives caught in the crossfire who pay the highest price. The dreams and hopes of families shattered, the trauma imprinted on the minds of children – these scars cannot be undone. It is imperative that we prioritise dialogue, understanding, and a commitment to lasting peace, for only through such measures can we break the cycle of violence.”
“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has deep-rooted complexities and historical grievances that perpetuate this cycle of violence. Achieving lasting peace will require genuine commitment to dialogue, understanding, and compromise. It is crucial to amplify the voices of moderation on both sides, fostering an environment where peaceful coexistence can flourish. Only through sincere efforts to address the underlying grievances and protect the rights and dignity of all can a just and sustainable resolution be achieved.”
Overall, AOAV has recorded 1,024 incidents of explosive weapon use in Gaza and the West Bank since 2010, and 7,128 civilian casualties (1,623 killed and 5,505 injured). Among the civilian casualties, AOAV has recorded at least 1,525 children. Civilians represent 91% of all 7,832 casualties of explosive violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
96% (6,862) of civilian casualties have been attributed to state actors, specifically Israel. Non-state actors have killed and injured 125 civilians in the OPT, in particular Hamas (65 civilian casualties), unattributed Palestinian militants (6), Islamic State (2), and unknown non-state actors (52).
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