• Five premature babies found dead in paediatric hospital
• Another group of prisoners released; three said to be killed in earlier Israeli strikes on Gaza
GAZA: With just hours of peace left, mediators scrambled to extend a truce between Israel and Hamas on Wednesday.
But progress on the truce deal was marred by the killings of two Palestinian children by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.
Late on Wednesday night, AFP reported that another group of Israeli prisoners had been handed over to the Red Cross in the Gaza Strip. The release is the sixth under the extended humanitarian truce. At least 10 prisoners were expected to be freed on Wednesday under the terms of the truce agreement.
But the handover was overshadowed by the Hamas announcement that a number of Israeli prisoners, including a baby, had been killed during the earlier Israeli bombardment of Gaza.
Before a temporary truce, Israeli soldiers had blocked access to the intensive care unit at Al-Nasr paediatric facility in Gaza. The health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP that “five premature babies have been found dead at a hospital in Gaza City.” He added, “the occupation (Israeli) forces left five premature babies” who were found “partly decomposed”.
Israeli bombardment has since reduced much of Gaza to a wasteland, with more than 15,000 people confirmed killed, 40 per cent of them children.
Many more are feared buried under the ruins, the Palestinian health ministry said. Another 160 bodies had been pulled out of rubble during the past 24 hours of the truce, and around 6,500 people were still missing.
West Bank killings
Palestinian authorities said in a statement that “Adam al-Ghul, eight years old, and Bassem Abu el-Wafa, 15 years old, were killed by bullets from the occupier”.
CCTV footage circulating online and on television news shows a child being struck by a bullet and falling in the street, sending other children fleeing. Other images show a 15-year-old child also being hit by a bullet and falling, then appearing to call for help as more shots hit the ground around him.
The child can be seen struggling on the ground in apparent agony for at least half a minute.
An official with the Palestinian Red Crescent said the children had been on a side street of central Jenin’s main thoroughfare, an area theoretically off limits to the Israeli military as it is under the sole control of the Palestinian Authority. The Hamas announcement said that baby Kfir Bibas, 10 months old, had been killed in an earlier Israeli bombing, along with his four-year-old brother Ariel and their mother.
Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2023