Human toll included high levels of displacement, driven by Israel’s 50-day military assault on Gaza last summer
Palestinians suffered a dramatic increase in fatalities last year, with more killed by Israel in 2014 than any other annual period since the 1967 war nearly 50 years ago.
A new report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territory found that, overall, Israel was responsible for 2,314 Palestinian deaths and 17,125 injuries last calendar year.
Entitled Fragmented Lives, the study concludes that Israel’s 50-day military assault on Gaza last summer was the most significant driver of casualties. Between July 7 and August 26, Israel killed at least 2,220 Palestinians and wounded 11,231 in the war. According to researchers, 1,492 of those killed were civilians, but the number could be far higher, as 123 are listed as unverified. At least 551 children are numbered among the dead.
When compared with Israeli deaths, the human toll is asymmetrical. The report notes that 71 Israelis, 66 of them soldiers, were killed, in addition to one foreign national.
But this high magnitude of human loss is not limited to Gaza.
The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, “witnessed the highest number of Palestinian fatalities in incidents involving Israeli forces since 2007 and the highest number of Palestinian injuries since 2005, when OCHA began collecting data,” the report notes.
There was a drastic spike in child casualties specifically, as well as a a dramatic rise in Palestinian injuries, driven by a “sharp increase in the Israeli forces’ use of live ammunition.”
This trend appears to be continuing into 2015.
Earlier this week, Defence for Children International-Palestine reported that, in the first three months of this year, at least 30 children in the West Bank and East Jerusalem were shot with live ammunition by Israeli forces during protest, with several left in critical condition.
But the human toll was not limited to immediate deaths and wounds, the UN report notes.
In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestinians endured a dramatic rise in incarceration for alleged security offenses, including a monthly average of 185 Palestinian children held in military detention. Defense for Children International – Palestine has documented abuse and torture that Palestinian children endure in Israeli prisons, where they are denied due process.
Furthermore, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, home demolitions, discriminatory planning, and settler violence led to high levels of displacement last year. More than 7,500 Palestinian Bedouins in 46 West Bank communities face the immediate threat of forcible transfer by Israeli authorities, thanks to a controversial relocation plan, the report notes.
In Gaza, nearly half a million people—28 percent of the population—were internally displaced last year by the war, and as of the end of December, approximately 100,000 remain displaced.
The report was released just days after Israel and close ally and backer the United Statesboycotted a UN human rights session aimed, in part at addressing Israeli human rights violations.
Yousef Munayyer, executive director for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, told Common Dreams that the UN report underscores the importance, right now, for the international community to exert pressure to enforce real change.
“Palestinians continue to pay highest price for the status quo,” said Munayyer. “The failure to do something to resolve this situation is a stain on the moral conscience of international community.”