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Gaza: Civilians paying price for failure to end violence

Gaza: Civilians paying price for collective failure to end violence, warns UN relief chief

16 July 2014

As innocent men, women and children continue to bear the brunt of the deadly violence that has engulfed the Gaza Strip, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator today reminded both Israelis and Palestinians of their obligations under international law to protect civilians and to distinguish between military and civilian targets.

Extremely concerned by the escalation of hostilities and its impact on civilians, Valerie Amos, in a statement issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which she heads, said that according to preliminary estimates, as of 15 July, 194 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli attacks, including 149 civilians.

Ms. Amos said that hundreds of homes have been directly targeted by Israeli airstrikes, many of which were allegedly the residences of members of armed groups. More than 1,300 families have been forced to seek shelter with relatives and neighbours. Nearly 80 schools have been damaged because of their proximity to targeted sites. In one incident, an Israeli airstrike killed 18 people in one house, including six children and three women.

Public services have been suspended and the water supply is at risk after two maintenance engineers were killed by an Israeli missile, she added.

“Armed groups are firing rockets from residential areas in Gaza towards populated areas in Israel, reportedly killing one civilian so far and putting at risk the lives of thousands more, both Israeli and Palestinian,” Ms Amos said, and underscored: “Sustained bombardment is terrifying for everyone but particularly for children, who will need psycho-social support long after the violence subsides.”

She went on to remind the parties to conflict that they have responsibilities under international humanitarian law, emphasizing that “they must take precautions to protect civilians and must distinguish between civilian and military targets.”

“This is the third major military confrontation in Gaza in six years, and civilians have borne the brunt each time. They are paying the price for a collective failure to break the cycle of violence and reach a lasting political solution,” declared Ms. Amos.


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