Gaza City, Gaza -- Israel is expanding its operations to once again target civilians in Gaza. On Aug. 23, the 47th day of the assault, 12 Palestinians were killed in relentless Israeli airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, including five women and two children. In a particularly egregious use of lethal force now being called “Gaza’s 9/11,” Israeli warplanes struck two towers that served as literal pillars of society -- one an office-and-retail complex in Rafah and another an 11-floor apartment building in Gaza City that served as home for nearly 50 families. Although residents were warned to evacuate 10 minutes before the drone attack, the assault was so massive that 17 people – four of them children -- were injured.
"The building known as ‘Alzafer 4’ contained 44 apartments,” says Ramy Abdu, chair of Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, a watchdog group based in Gaza and Geneva. “Ten minutes’ warning is enough time to flee, but not to save all of your possessions. These families now are without food, clothes and personal mementos – all of the manifestations of their lives and history, gone in an instant.”
The Israeli government claimed that it was targeting several “Hamas operations rooms,” no proof was cited. The result was hundreds of more people added to the swelling numbers of people forced to seek shelter with family and friends, in UN schools and elsewhere – a tally that reached 460,000 this week.
“The Israeli government is blatantly guilty of collective punishment,” says Ihsan Adel, a Euro-Mid legal researcher. “The UN Security Council must take immediate steps to hold Israel to account for the massive loss of life, property and livelihood.”
The death toll from the Israeli assault that first began on July 7 now stands at 2,100, including 535 children and 298 women. A much larger number of Palestinians in Gaza have been injured – 10,628, including 3,214 children and 2,065 women. About a third of the wounded children, will be forced to live with permanent disabilities.
The latest civilian onslaught began Saturday after the collapse of the truce negotiations. In one day, Israeli forces waged at least 242 individual attacks using including 192 missiles from the air, 21 shells from the sea and 29 artillery attacks from tanks. Since July 7, Gaza has been hit 59,973 times -- 7,690 by air, 15,673 from the sea and 36,610 on the ground.
Israel continues to target homes and civilian institutions. On Saturday alone, 439 homes were hit – 99 were destroyed and 340 were damaged. The total number of homes demolished or damaged since the beginning of this latest war on Gaza is now 15,671 (of which 2,276 are destroyed).
Other civilian structures targeted on Aug. 23 included a mosque and four nonprofit charity organizations. They joined mosques and 26 charities destroyed or damaged since July 7, which had served more than 200,000 persons.
Euro-Mid Observer estimates the economic loss to Gaza from the Israeli assault to be $3.4 billion.