Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Gaza Watch #18 Gaza: The children killed in a war the world doesn't want

By Donald Macintyre In Rafah

The Independent
19 September 2006

Nayef Abu Snaima says his 14-year-old cousin Jihad had
been sitting on the edge of an olive grove talking
animatedly to him about what he would do when he grew up
when he was killed instantly by an Israeli shell.

He says he clearly saw a bright flash next to the control
tower of the disused Gaza international airport, occupied
by Israeli forces after Cpl Gilad Shalit was seized by
militants on 25 June. "I went two or three steps and the
missile landed," said Nayef, 24. "I thought I was dying. I
shouted 'La Ilaha Ila Allah' [There is no God but Allah]."

When Jihad's older brother Kassem, 20, arrived at the
scene: "My brother was already dead. There was shrapnel in
his head. Nayef was shouting 'Allah, Allah'. The missile
landed about four metres from where Jihad had been
standing. There was shrapnel in his body as well, his
legs, everything. He had been bleeding a lot everywhere."

Jihad Abu Snaima was just the most recent of more than 37
children and teenagers under 18 killed [out of a total
death toll, including militants, of 228] in the operations
mounted by the Israeli military in Gaza since 25 June,
according to figures from the Palestinian Centre of Human
Rights (PCHR).

Of these, the PCHR classifies 151 as "civilian", although
beside non-combatants and bystanders, that total also
includes militants or faction members not involved in
operations against Israel at the time for example those
deliberately targeted in Israeli air strikes because of
their involvement in previous attacks. The Israel Defence
Forces have always maintained that being under 18 does not
automatically exclude a person from taking part in action
against them.

The conflict in Gaza has attracted relatively little
international attention, not least because for five weeks
it was overshadowed by that in Lebanon. But the death toll
has continued to rise.

Nayef, who was speaking from his hospital bed, has
multiple shrapnel-inflicted cuts on his plaster-covered
arms and legs. But he was lucky compared with Jihad. A
school caretaker with a five-year-old daughter, Nayef
insists the evening of Jihad's death was just a family
get-together. It is normal, he said, in this Bedouin
community in the Al Shouka hamlet outside the southernmost
Gaza town of Rafah to socialise at each other's homes on a
summer evening, and that he and Jihad were especially

"I was always with him. He was an innocent person, kind.
He was talking to me about how he was going to inherit
part of his father's land and farm it and how he was going
to get married and stay here." Nayef added tearfully: "He
was a boy who had hopes. He wanted to live his life." He
added: "What is my daughter going to think? She is going
to grow up hating the Israelis."

The family say there was no shelling in the area at the
time either before or after the incident; and that they
therefore presume Jihad and Nayef were targeted by a tank
crew. They insist there was no activity by militants
against Israeli positions on the day of the attack. "This
is an open area," said Nayef. "The resistance would not go
there because they would be seen."

By contrast, the Israel Defence Forces said, without
specifying Al Shouka, that on 10 September it had
identified and hit "two men" moving near its forces in
southern Gaza crouching on the ground, and " apparently
planting explosives". Nayef is adamant that on the night
in question he and Jihad were merely pausing on an evening
stroll to his own house.

The PCHR, which seeks to monitor every violent Palestinian
death, does not only focus on the Israel-Palestinian
conflict. It has, for example, repeatedly condemned the
killing and injuring of growing numbers of civilians, also
including children, during mounting inter-Palestinian
disputes in Gaza; shootings by Palestinian security forces
themselves; attacks on Christian churches by Muslims
protesting against the Pope; the injury of civilians,
including children, by Palestinian-fired Qassam rockets
which fall short of targets in Israel; and the kidnapping
last month of two Fox TV employees which has deterred
journalists from visiting Gaza.

But Hamdi Shaqqura of PCHR's Gaza office which accuses
Israel of using repeated closures and destruction of the
power supply to operate a policy of "collective
punishment" in breach of international law in Gaza, argues
that the excuse of "collateral damage" cannot justify the
" very high" death toll in the operations since 15 June.
He adds: " Israel's forces have been acting excessively
and disproportionately, and this explains the high figures
for the number of innocent civilians killed by them."

At the other, northern end of Gaza, close to the al-Nada
apartment blocks between Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya, Aref
Abu Qaida, 16, was killed by an artillery shell on 1
August. Sharif Harafin, 15, said: "We had been playing
football and we had just finished. I was carrying the
ball. I was going to my home, and [Aref] was going to his
home. I heard a loud boom and then I saw him cut to

As his family displayed Aref's shredded red baseball cap,
Sharif said he saw his friend's severed head on the
ground, adding: "His chest was torn out by the rocket.
People were collecting parts of his body. I was crying a

The IDF says that on 1 August it had fired and hit "a
number of Palestinians" in "the area of Beit Lahiya" who
had " approached a number of rocket launchers placed in
the area". Both PCHR and local residents, including
Mohammed Abu Qaida, 39, the dead boy's uncle, say that,
while three other civilians were wounded, the only other
death in this incident was that of Mervat Sharekh, 24, a
woman who was visiting relatives from Rafah and who died
in hospital an hour later.

Although the area had been shelled before, and some
residents had fled in response to Israeli warnings the
previous week, Mr Abu Qaida said the area had been quiet
on the day except that Qassam rockets had been fired
about four hours earlier from northern settlements more
than a kilometre away from the flats.

The IDF said last night that, of those killed in Gaza, it
had the " positive identities of over 220 gunmen killed in
fighting, and can confirm their affiliation with terror
organisations". The 220 figure said to be "unbelievable"
by Mr Shaqqura coupled with another 20 dead which the
military acknowledges as genuine civilians, is all the
more strikingly at variance with PCHR figures since it
produces a total exceeding the centre's own records.

Mr Shaqqura said that, at the absolute minimum, the IDF
figures do not take into account the casualties under 18
which PCHR estimates at 44 and from which he said every
effort is made to exclude the "rare" teenagers with
militant connections or eight women killed since 25 June.
" We do not believe their figures. We do not believe their

The IDF said: "Since the abduction of Cpl Gilad Shalit by
the Hamas and PRC terror organisations, the IDF has been
operating in the Gaza Strip against terrorist
infrastructure and in order to secure the release of Cpl
Shalit. In the course of the operations, the IDF engaged
in intense fighting with Palestinian gunmen, who chose
heavily populated areas as their battlegrounds. The IDF
takes every measure to prevent harm to civilians, often at
a risk to its soldiers."

The forgotten war in the Middle East

* 25 June: Palestinian gunmen from the Hamas-linked
Izzedine al-Qassam brigades cross from Gaza into Israel
and launch a raid on an Israeli military patrol. Two
Israeli soldiers are killed, four wounded and one, Cpl
Gilad Shalit, is captured and taken back into Gaza.

* 28 June: Israel masses troops before launching a
reoccupation of the Gaza Strip under the codename
Operation Summer Rains. Civilian casualties mount as
Israeli forces search the Khan Younis refugee camp for Cpl

* 12 July: Mimicking the tactics of Palestinian militants,
Hizbollah launches mortars and rockets into northern
Israel from southern Lebanon to divert attention from a
cross-border raid that ambushes an Israeli military
patrol, killing three soldiers and capturing two others.
The raid threatens to draw the whole Middle East into

* 13 July: International attention is diverted from Gaza
as Israel launches a full military invasion of southern
Lebanon in response to Hizbollah's attack. The mounting
civilian death toll across Gaza pales in comparison to
Lebanon as Israeli jets pummel infrastructure.

* 24 July: As world powers frantically search for a
UN-backed ceasefire in Lebanon, Israel increases its
bombardment of the Gaza Strip in an attempt to force
Palestinian militants to release Cpl Shalit. Under the
codename Operation Samson's Pillars, Israeli jets pound
Gaza's roads and buildings, including the power station.

* 14 August: UN approves a ceasefire for Lebanon after
four weeks of fighting which has left approximately 1,500
Lebanese and 150 Israelis dead. International community
continues to ignore the conflict in Gaza over fears that
Lebanon could slip back into warfare unless a UN
peacekeeping force arrives in the region.

* Mid-August-present: Israel continues to carry out air
strikes and raids in Gaza. At least 33 civilians have been
killed since the beginning of August, 10 of whom were
under the age of 18.

Names of children under the age of 18 killed during the
operations mounted by the Israeli military in Gaza since
25 June, according to the Palestinian Centre of Human

Bara Nasser Habib, 3 (hit by shrapnel to the head and
body, Gaza City, 26 July)
Shahed Saleh Al-Sheikh Eid, 3 days old (bled to death
after airstrike, Al-Shouka, 4 August)
Rajaa Salam Abu Shaban, 3 (died of fractured skull
in air raid, Gaza City, 9 August)
Jihad Selmi Abu Snaima, 14 (killed by a shell,
Al-Shoukha, 10 september)
Khaled Nidal Wahba, 15 months (died of wounds from
an airstrike, 10 July)
Rawan Farid Hajjaj, 6 (killed with his mother and
sister in an airstrike, Gaza City,8 July)
Anwar Ismail Abdul Ghani Atallah, 12 (shot in
the head, Erez, 5 July)
Shadi Yousef Omar 16 (shot in the chest by IDF,
Beit Lahya, 7 July)
Mahfouth Farid Nuseir, 16 (killed by missile while
playing football, Beit Hanoun, 11 July)
Ahmad Ghalib Abu Amsha, 16, (killed by missile
while playing football, Beit Hanoun, 11 July)
Ahmad Fathi Shabat, 16 (killed by missile while
playing football, Beit Hanoun, 11 July)
Walid Mahmoud El-Zeinati, 12 (died of shrapnel
wounds, Gaza City, 11 July)
Basma Salmeya, 16 (killed in Israeli
airstrike, 12 July, Jabalia)
Somaya Salmeya, 17 (killed in Israeli
airstrike, 12 July, Jabalia)
Aya Salmeya, 9 (killed in Israeli
airstrike, Jabalia, 12 July)
Yehya Salmeya, 10 (killed in Israeli
airstrike, Jabalia, 12 July)
Nasr Salmeya, 7 (killed in Israeli airstrike,
Jabalia, 12 July)
Huda Salmeya, 13 (killed in Israeli
airstrike, Jabalia, 12 July)
Eman Salmeya, 12 (killed in Israeli
airstrike, Jabalia, 12 July)
Raji Omar Jaber Daifallah, 16 (died of shrapnel
wounds from missile, Gaza City, 13 July)
Ali Kamel Al-Najjar, 16 (killed by Israeli tank
shell, Al-Maghazi refugee camp, 19 July)
Ahmed Ali Al-Na'ami, 16 (killed by Israeli tank
shell, Al-Maghazi refugee camp, 19 July)
Ahmed Rawhi Abu Abdu, 14 (killed by drone missile,
Al Nusairat refugee camp, 19 July)
Mohammed 'awad Muhra, 14 (killed by Israeli
bullet to the chest, Al-Maghazi refugee
camp, 20 July)
Fadwa Faisal Al-'arrouqi, 13 (died from shrapnel
wounds, Gaza City, 20 July)
Saleh Ibrahim Nasser, 14 (killed by artillery
fire, Beit Hanoun, 24 July)
Khitam Mohammed Rebhi Tayeh, 11 (killed by artillery
fire, Beit Hanoun, 24 July)
Ashraf 'abdullah 'awad Abu Zaher, 14
(shot in the back, Khan Younis, 25 July)
Nahid Mohammed Fawzi Al-Shanbari, 16
(killed by artillery fire, Beit Hanoun, 31 July)
'aaref Ahmed Abu Qaida, 14
(killed by artillery fire, Beit Hanoun, 1 August)
Anis Salem Abu Awad, 12 (killed by airstike,
Al-Shouka, 2 August)
Ammar Rajaa Al-Natour, 17 (killed by drone missile,
Al Shouka, 5 August)
Kifah Rajaa Al-Natour, 15 (killed by drone missile,
Al Shouka, 5 August)
Ibrahim Suleiman Al-Rumailat, 13 (killed by drone missile,
Al Shouka, 5 August)
Ahmed Yousef 'abed 'aashour, 13 (killed by missile
fire, Beit Hanoun, 14 August)
Mohammed 'abdullah Al-Ziq, 14 (killed by drone missile,
Gaza City, 29 August)
Nidal 'abdul 'aziz Al-Dahdouh, 14
(killed by rifle fire, Gaza City, 30 August)
Jihad Selmi Abu Snaima, 14 (killed by artillery
fire, Rafah, 10 September)


Taysiir said...

Rest in peace.

Asad Ramallah said...

i feel so sorry for these poor kids, which die just like that..

its bad.
its sad.

asad al nimr