Israeli rights group: 252 children under 16 killed in Gaza assault

B'Tselem said more than half of the Palestinians killed in the Gaza war were civilians.

Israeli rights group: 252 children under 16 killed in Gaza assault

An Israeli human rights group said on Wednesday 773 of the Palestinians killed in the Gaza war were civilians and 252 were under 16.

"The extremely heavy civilian casualties and the massive damage to civilian property require serious introspection on the part of Israeli society," B'Tselem said in a statement.

B'Tselem, in a new report, said 1,387 Palestinians were killed in the war -- 773 civilians, 330 combatants, 248 Hamas policemen and 36 people whom the group was unable to classify as combatants or non-combatants.

The figures issued by the B'Tselem organisation were slightly different from the reports published by groups such as Amnesty International and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights after the 22-day Israeli offensive ended in January.

Earlier, the Palestinian Centre For Human Rights (PCHR), said that 65 per cent of those killed in the Gaza war were civilians. PCHR earlier this year put the death toll at 1,417 - 926 civilians, 255 non-combatant police officers and 236 fighters.

Among the civilian dead, B'Tselem said, were 320 minors under the age of 18 and 109 women.

Among the minors, 252 of the dead were under 16, and the group's researchers visited homes and collected photos, death certificates and other documents relating to all those deaths. The military has said it is aware of 89 dead children under 16.

But Israel claimed that at least 60 per cent of those killed were "fighters" - members of Hamas and other armed groups.

"Behind the dry statistics lie shocking individual stories; whole families were killed; parents saw their children shot before their very eyes; relatives watched their loved ones bleed to death; and entire neighbourhoods were obliterated," said B'Tselem.

In a statement, B'Tselem said its researchers had visited Gaza homes to take witness testimony and collect documents to arrive at its casualty figures.

Michaeli said B'Tselem could only dispatch two Gaza field workers since the military prevented outsiders, including Arabic-speaking researchers from Israel, from entering the territory.

It urged the Israeli government to launch a "credible" investigation into laws of war violations during the Gaza offensive, independent of the Israeli military.

In its mission statement, B'Tselem says it endeavours to document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory.

Israel launched on Dec. 27 a massive offensive in Gaza, killing more than 1434 Palestinians, a third of them children, and wounded at least 5300.

In its land, sea and ar offensive, Israel targeted hospitals, schools, mosques and government buildings and destroyed infrastructure system in Gaza, lefting Palestinians without electricity, gas and power.

But Israel imposes heavy blockade on entry of infrastracture materials under the pretext of Palestinians can use them as "weapon" materials.

Hamas wants Israel and Egypt to reopen all Gaza's border crossings so that people and goods can move freely. Gaza has been under heavy blockade for most of the time since Hamas took power there in June 2007.

Last Mod: 09 Eylül 2009, 15:33
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