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The reason why Israel killed so many pregnant women in Gaza

Did Israel kill so many pregnant women in the assault on Gaza in Summer 2014 because they were human shields for unborn 'terrorists'?


This article was originally published on 16 August 2014.

AFTER FIVE weeks of Israeli bombing and invasion the United Nations reported that the death toll in Gaza was 1,973, 72% of them civilians, including 459 children and 238 women.

Not included in that figure were the nine unborn children that Israel killed.

Three pregnant mothers were among the 25 members of the Abu Jamaa family who were killed on 20 July, when Israeli forces struck a house near Khan Younis, without warning. The dead included 18 children and five women. The family was eating iftar, the meal that breaks the Ramadan fast.

Just as this family was being slaughtered, by an indisputable Israeli war crime, the US secretary of state John Kerry gave an interview in which he said, Israel's attack on Gaza was an "appropriate and legitimate effort" to defend itself.

A little earlier in the day, Kerry's boss, President Obama, repeated his "strong support for Israel's right to defend itself".

Obama gave this green light to Israel, "after speaking with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu earlier in the day". Predictably, Netanyahu was soon all over the media crowing about US support for Israel's indiscriminate bombardment of the most densely populated place on Earth, and announcing that Israel planned to intensify the carnage in Gaza over the coming days.

At a press conference on 3 August, Netanyahu praised the United States for its "terrific support" and Obama for his "unequivocal stand with Israel on our right to defend ourselves".

Britain's prime minister David Cameron also spoke regularly to Netanyahu, to whom he repeated "our recognition of Israel's right to take proportionate action to defend itself".

Whether it was 'proportionate' to kill 459 children, or four boys playing football on a beach, or 25 family members as they sat down for a meal, David Cameron hasn't said. Was it 'proportionate to litter the streets of the Shujai'iya dictrict in Gaza City with dozens of bodies of mainly women and children, after it had been effectively carpet-bombed? Was it 'proportionate' to bomb hospitals and a home for the disabled? David Cameron didn't say.

Cameron said he had asked Netanyahu "to do everything to avoid civilian casualties, to exercise restraint".

This clearly did not include restraining from sending the world's fifth most powerful military force to invade a tiny area, just 25 miles long and just a few miles wide, into which are crammed 1.8 million people, who have been held captive in a brutal siege for seven years, that has deprived the inhabitants of food, power, access to clean water, a functioning sewage system, medical supplies and other essential resources.

Israel's justification for killing so many civilians is the claim that Hamas is using civilians as human shields for its rockets and fighters. These same accusations, were made in 2008 and 2009 during Israel's Operation Cast Lead bombing of Gaza and were found to be without evidence by Amnesty International.

Israeli spokesman Mark Regev has been given free rein by the mainstream media to repeat this accusation, despite journalists like the BBC's Jeremy Bowen reporting that they "saw no evidence of Hamas using Palestinians as human shields."

In fact, the human shields' argument is a complete myth, which is why Israel has produced no evidence to support it. It is the reason Israel gave for the missile attack on a home for the disabled in Beit Lahiya, killing two disabled residents and injuring four others. Jamilla Alaiwa, a 59 year old social worker who founded the home, said,. "If the Israelis have proof of this let them make it public. There was no one from Islamic Jihad or Hamas living there. We are not involved in politics."

No Palestinian civilian has been found to corroborate Israel's claim they are being forced by Hamas to become unwilling human shields. Why then, says Israel, do people stay in their homes when we drop leaflets telling them to evacuate because we are about to bomb? Abdullah al-Daweish, a relative of the family of five killed in Khan Younis, explains:

“Where do we go to? Some people moved from the outer edge of Khan Younis to Khan Younis centre after Israelis told them to, then the centre got bombed. People have moved from this area to Gaza City, and Gaza City has been bombed. It’s not Hamas who is ordering us in this, it’s the Israelis.”

The United Nations said on 22 July that 43% of the Gaza population had been affected by evacuation or no-go area warnings from Israel. By the beginning of August, the number of displaced Gaza residents was over half a million.

Over 200,000 Palestinians fled to centres set up by the United Nations. A total of 344 babies were born in UN schools designated as shelters.

But even here they were not safe, with the UN relief agency reporting that six of its facilities, including three schools were struck by Israeli shells. On 22 July at least 15 Palestinians sheltering in a UN school were killed and 200 injured, most of them women and children. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon called the attack a war crime. But this didn't stop Israel attacking another UN school a week later, this time killing a further 17 civilians.

Even the United States, supplier of the shells that did the killing, felt it needed to call the attack "disgraceful", but at the same time it was rushing arms to Israel as its munitions stocks were running low, so much of it used to devastate Gaza.

The British government was shown to be no slouch either in supplying arms to Israel, when it was revealed that UK manufactured weapons and components were being used in Israel's current assault, including drone technology that the Israeli airforce described as the "backbone" of its targeting and reconnaissance missions.

With the borders of Gaza sealed by the Israeli and Egyptian siege, no wonder the desperate response from its people -- as Israel bombarded the whole area by land, sea and air -- was, where else is there for us to go?

Nowhere, is the reply for the two families -- eleven people -- killed overnight on 23 July. A distraught man told the BBC how his dead relatives there had been relocated twice, first from Beit Hanoun and then from Shujai'iya, areas that received Israeli evacuation orders.

Netanyahu says another reason for so many civilians being killed by Israel, is because Hamas wants to "pile up as many civilian dead as they can to make Israel look bad. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better."

Netanyahu was allowed to make this despicable accusation without challenge on the mainstream media news broadcasts. But "the more dead the better" is certainly the view of not a few Israelis, including the member of the Israeli parliament, Ayelet Shaked, who said recently,

"Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there."

Put a little less graphically, Israeli army major general Oren Shachor, explained: “If we kill their families, that will frighten them.”

So, is the reason so many pregnant women were killed in Gaza because Israel believes they were acting as human shields for unborn 'terrorists'?

When an Israeli air strike killed an expectant mother in the early hours of 23 July, Gaza health officials told the BBC how they tried to rescue the baby from the dead mother, only for the child to die. No doubt two deaths welcomed by Ayelet Shaked and major general Shachor.

Source: Stop the War Coalition