At least 37 children have been killed in the occupied Palestinian territory since the beginning of 2022, with 19 killed in the past week, UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet said on Thursday, expressing alarm at the high number of fatalities and injuries.
“Inflicting hurt on any child during the course of conflict is deeply disturbing, and the killing and maiming of so many children this year is unconscionable,” Bachelet said.
Seventeen of the 19 children were killed during the intense hostilities between Israel and armed Palestinian groups in Gaza on 5-7 August, the UNHR said. The remaining two children were killed in Israeli operations in the West Bank on 9 August.
A total of 48 Palestinians were killed in the 5 August weekend. Out of the 48, at least 22 were civilians, four of whom were women. The status of 22 of the deceased remains unknown.
Nineteen elderly people, 58 women and 151 children were among the 360 Palestinians reported injured in the same weekend.
On 9 August, Israeli forces shot and killed four Palestinians and injured another 90 in the West Bank. An arrest raid in the West Bank’s Nablus city caused 76 of the 90 injuries. On the same day, another Palestinian boy, 16, was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint in Hebron.
Several Israeli strikes also hit civilian objects, causing damage and civilian casualties.
Such attacks to prima facie civilian objects are “clearly” prohibited in international humanitarian law, Bachelet said.
Palestinian groups were also in violation of international humanitarian law, with a total of 70 Israelis reported injured by Israeli authorities. Civilian objects were damaged in Palestinian rocket and mortar strikes in Israel and in Gaza.
Bachelet called for “prompt, independent, impartial, thorough and transparent investigations” to all fatalities and injuries, and said there was “an almost total lack of accountability” in the occupied territories.
“This climate of impunity, along with the long-standing violations, drives the cycle of violence and the recurrence of violations,” she said. “Events such as in Nablus risk igniting further hostilities in Gaza.”
The high commissioner called for “the utmost restraint” to prevent further bloodshed.
On the first day of the deadly weekend, 5 August, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland expressed “deep concern” over the ongoing escalation.
“The continuing escalation is very dangerous. The launching of rockets must cease immediately, and I call on all sides to avoid further escalation,” Wennesland said.
The escalation risks undoing the gradual progress in opening Gaza, leading to “even greater humanitarian needs at a time when global resources are stretched and international financial support for a renewed humanitarian effort in Gaza will not be easily available”, the coordinator said.
Wennesland repeated the organisation’s commitment to “ending the ongoing escalation, ensuring the safety and security of the civilian population, and following-up on the Palestinian prisoners file”.