11 children in trauma therapy killed in Israeli strikes: Rights group

Bombed while at home, these children thought they were safe, says Norwegian Refugee Council as Gaza death toll rises to 217.

11 children in trauma therapy killed in Israeli strikes: Rights group

Eleven of over 60 children killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza were enrolled in a psycho-social program to help them deal with trauma, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) announced Tuesday. 

The NRC said in a written statement that the children, aged between five and 15, were killed in their homes in densely populated areas "along with countless other relatives who died or received injuries."

"We are devastated to learn that eleven children we were helping with trauma were bombarded while they were at home and thought they were safe," the group's Secretary-General Jan Egeland said. "We call on Israel to stop this madness: children must be protected. Their homes must not be targets. Schools must not be targets. Spare these children and their families. Stop bombing them now."

Among the children killed by Israeli airstrikes was that of 15-year-old Lina Iyad Shar, who was killed along with both of her parents in the Al Manara neighborhood on May 11, while her two-year-old sister Mina is still in critical condition, according to the NRC statement.

Hala Hussein al-Rifi, 13, was also killed on May 12 by an Israeli airstrike in Tal Al-Hawa neighborhood, while four-year-old Zaid Mohammad Telbani -- along with his five-months pregnant mother Rima, was killed in the same attack.

Six children in Gaza's Al Wahda Street were killed along with their families in multiple air raids by Israel, the NRC said. These included Tala Ayman Abu al-Auf, 13, her 17-year-old brother, and her father, Dr. Ayman Abu al-Auf, who was the head of internal medicine at Gaza City's Shifa hospital.

Rula Mohammad al-Kawlak, five, Yara, nine, and Hala, 12 -- all sisters -- together with their 14-year old cousin Hana and several other relatives, were killed in the same attacks, as were sisters Dima and Mira Rami al-Ifranji, 15 and 11, and their neighbor Dana Riad Hasan Ishkantna, nine.

Rafeef Murshed Abu Dayer, 10, and another child assisted by NRC, were killed in the same area on May 17 after shrapnel hit her together with her two brothers, NRC said in the statement.

At least 217 Palestinians have been killed, including 63 children and 36 women, and 1,500 others injured in Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip since May 10, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Also, 12 Israelis have reportedly been killed in Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

A global non-government organization, Save The Children, announced on Sunday that almost 60 children had been killed by Israeli bombardments in the last week alone, while at least 366 children had been injured in the ongoing strikes.

"Every time there's an airstrike we become scared. Every time we try to go out, when we get to the front door, there's another air strike and we run back inside as fast as we can," 10-year-old Khaled was quoted by the group.