By Matthew E. Milliken
July 31, 2014
I wrote earlier this week about why the existence of Israel was and remains worthy of support. The subject is topical, alas, because of the Jewish nation’s ongoing war against Gaza, which began on July 7 and has involved a combination of aerial and naval bombardment and ground offensives.
The fighting has taken an appalling toll. As of Wednesday, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 1,263 Palestinians had been killed. Some 852 people, or more than two-thirds of the deaths, were civilians, including an astounding 249 children. The U.N. identified 181 of the victims as “members of armed groups.” Another 230 individuals had yet to be categorized; many of them are believed to have been civilians.
Israeli casualties, by contrast, have been light. Fifty-three soldiers have been killed along with two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker.
But the consequences of this war go beyond just killing. Earlier this week, the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that 6,233 Gazans had been wounded; nearly 2,000 of the injured are children.
The property damage inflicted by Israelis upon Gaza has also been staggering. More than 800 homes have been totally destroyed or severely damaged. At least 68 families have suffered three or more deaths in one incident. That accounts for 360 deaths, the U.N. reports: 147 children, 73 women and 140 men.
The organization says that nearly 9,400 families — more than 28,000 people — must make major repairs or entirely rebuild their homes. Another 27,000 families, or 162,000 people, live in homes that sustained minor or moderate damage.
Some 245,000 Palestinians have registered in public shelters, many of which are schools; up to 200,000 more may have sought refuge in private residences.