Photo: AFP
Destruction in Saja'iyya
Photo: AFP

UN identifies 1,117 Gaza casualties, 83% of them civilians

Palestinians report 1,665 killed since beginning of operation, UNICEF says at least 296 minors killed.

Palestinians said midday Saturday that 1,665 people have been killed and moer than 8,900 wounded since the beginning of the IDF Gaza operation.



Meanwhile, the IAF struck a terror cell in Khan Younis on Saturday, killing all four members of the cell.


The UN has managed to verify the identities of 1,117 people, including a vast majority of civilians (926, 83%). UNICEF has recorded at least 296 minors.


"Children make up for 30 percent of the civilian casualties," said the UN children's agency UNICEF, adding that the toll was based on deaths which it was able to verify and was likely to rise.


"The number of child casualties during the last 48 hours may rise as a number of incidents are pending verification," it said in a statement.


UNICEF stressed that its figures are "cross-checked to the best extent possible in the current situation... subject to change based on further verifications."


The toll breaks down to 187 boys and 109 girls, with at least 203 of them under the age of 12. 


The UN also reported 280,000 people have been displaced and are seeking shelter in UN facilities, they make up 15 percent of the Gaza population.


Missile that did not explode in Deir al-Balah (Photo: EPA) (Photo: EPA)
Missile that did not explode in Deir al-Balah (Photo: EPA)


With the ceasefire in tatters and while Israel continues its searches for Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin who was kidnapped on Friday near Rafah, reports from the Gaza Strip say dozens were killed and hundreds wounded in IAF attacks since the incident occurred.


The IDF attacked more than 80 target in the Gaza Strip on Friday and hit 12 terror militants in the southern part of the Strip.


"We are under fire, every minute or so tanks fire shells at us," said Rafah resident Ayman Al-Arja. "I have been thinking of leaving since 2 pm, but tank fire can reach anywhere, and I was scared they will hit my pickup truck. Now we are sitting in the stairwell, 11 members of my family, my brother, his nine children and wife. We just have water to drink and the radio to hear the news."


The 45-year-old Al-Arja added: "We are just staying put waiting for God's mercy."


Since Friday morning, more than 100 Palestinians have been killed in the Rafah area, including 35 early Saturday, al-Kidra said.


Destroyed homes in Gaza Strip (Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)
Destroyed homes in Gaza Strip (Photo: AP)


The police operations room reported 77 airstrikes on the area and heavy shelling.


Associated Press reported that IDF troops intensified military activity in the southern Strip, while heavy shelling and aerial attacks continued as part of efforts to locate Second Lieutenant Goldin. The death toll on the Palestinian side stands at 107 since Friday morning, according to reports, with over 350 wounded.


Elsewhere in Gaza, Palestinian officials reported more than 150 airstrikes including one against the Islamic University in Gaza City. The fiercest battles took place near the site of Friday's attack and purported abduction, near Rafah, about 3 kilometers inside the strip and close to the borders with Israel and Egypt.


The shelling in Rafah sent families fleeing from apartment blocks as pillars of smoke caused by the shelling rose from them. One woman carrying two children rushed toward a parked car. “Quickly, open the car door!” she yelled to a man standing nearby.


Ambulances ferried the wounded to Rafah’s al-Najar hospital, where bloodied bodies on stretchers were carried inside and family members frantically searched for loved ones. Many of the wounded were children, their clothes stained with blood. In one hospital room, four children were treated on a single bed. Others were being examined on the floor.



Saja'iyya, Friday (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)
Saja'iyya, Friday (Photo: AFP)


Four brief humanitarian cease-fires had been announced since the conflict began, but each broke within a few hours. The military said Gaza militants had fired at least 23 rockets and mortars at Israel since the start of Friday’s cease-fire, one of which was intercepted.


The latest cease-fire, announced by US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN chief Ban Ki-moon, was intended to be the first step toward a lasting truce, with Egypt inviting Israeli and Palestinian delegations to Cairo for talks.


IAF attacks on Rafah (Photo: EPA) (Photo: EPA)
IAF attacks on Rafah (Photo: EPA)


Despite the collapse of the latest truce, an Egyptian government official said Cairo had not canceled its invitation for Palestinians and Israelis to hold talks there. “Invites were delivered already to the delegations,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the press.


Soon after the cease-fire started, Gaza’s residents took advantage of the lull to return to their homes, many of which had been destroyed in the fighting.


Nuseirat Camp, Friday (Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)
Nuseirat Camp, Friday (Photo: AP)


In the heavily bombarded Gaza district of Shijaiyah, less than a mile from the Israeli border, residents surveyed the damage.


Bassem Abul Qumbus found his three-story home — in which he had invested tens of thousands of dollars — shattered. Shells had punched a hole in the ceiling of one bedroom and a wall had collapsed into the kitchen.


“The work of all those years is gone,” he said, as he struggled to salvage flour from bags that had been torn apart by shrapnel.


Rafah hospital (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)
Rafah hospital (Photo: Reuters)


In the southern town of Khan Younis, residents searched for bodies in the rubble of their homes as rescuers and volunteers carried away corpses, some charred, on makeshift stretchers.


Nidal Abu Rjeila found the body of his disabled sister on the ground on the side of the road, her wheelchair flipped upside down. He said her body had been there for five days.


Wounded Palestinian evacuated to hospital (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)
Wounded Palestinian evacuated to hospital (Photo: AFP)


“I tried to reach human rights groups and the Red Cross, but no one was answering me,” he said as he lay down by his sister’s body, overcome by grief.


Israel says it has tried to spare civilians, including by warning people ahead of military strikes, and has said Hamas endangers Gazans by firing rockets from residential areas.


Palestinian militants have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel since the start of the conflict, extending their reach to major cities but causing very few casualties, in part because Israel’s Iron Dome defense system has intercepted many of the projectiles.


Associated Press and AFP contributed to this report.


פרסום ראשון: 08.02.14, 12:37
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