[News] Israel largest state user of explosive weapons in 2014 due to Gaza war

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Fri Jun 26 18:16:34 EDT 2015

  Israel largest state user of explosive weapons in 2014 due to Gaza war

June 26, 2015 4:14 P.M. (Updated: June 26, 2015 11:23 P.M.)

By: Charlie Hoyle
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israel was the single largest user of explosive 
weapons among international states in 2014 as a result of its war on 
Gaza, a London-based NGO said this week, providing further testimony to 
its devastating use of force on the coastal territory last summer.In a 
entitled ‘Explosive States: Monitoring explosive violence in 2014,’ 
Action on Armed Violence said that Gaza -- together with Iraq, Syria, 
Nigeria, and Pakistan -- saw one of the highest number of global 
casualties from explosive weapons as a result of Israel’s use of 
military force during Operation Protective Edge.The majority of the 
2,200 Palestinian victims during the war – including 500 children -- 
were killed by explosive weaponry, with 53 percent killed by aerial 
weapons such as bombs, missiles or airstrikes and 47 percent by ground 
or naval artillery shelling, AOAV said.Gaza accounted for a staggering 
35 percent of global fatalities from aerial explosives and experienced 
the largest increase in civilian deaths from explosive weaponry in 2014 
-- in line with a five percent rise in total casualties worldwide.Syria 
topped the list for aerial explosive fatalities, accounting for 43 
percent of global deaths.Israel launched over 6,000 airstrikes and fired 
50,000 artillery shells into the densely populated coastal territory 
during the war, representing a 533 percent increase 
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=760268> from artillery use in 
Operation Cast Lead and averaging 680 shells fired into Gaza each day of 
the conflict.The statistics reinforce findings from the United Nations 
Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza war, which on Monday decried the 
"huge firepower" used in Gaza which caused unprecedented “devastation 
and human suffering.”Rob Perkins, a senior weapons researcher at AOAV, 
told Ma’an that Gaza experienced the third highest number of civilian 
casualties from explosive violence in 2014 – surpassed only by Iraq and 
Syria.“The operation in Gaza was characterized by the use of heavy 
explosive weapons, like massive aircraft bombs, or unguided artillery 
shell. These weapons affect a wide area, and after the extent to which 
these weapons were used in populated areas of Gaza, it is no surprise to 
see it so high in the table.”

Children bear the brunt of explosive violence
The 50-day conflict in Gaza killed 539 children and injured 2,956, most 
of whom are now struggling with trauma and life-long disabilities, 
according to the UN children's agency UNICEF.Of the 28 different 
countries and territories where child fatalities from explosive weapons 
were reported, 40 percent were killed or injured in Gaza, the largest 
proportion in any international conflict zone ahead of Syria at 25 
percent, AOAV said.Aerial explosives, such as airstrikes, were 
particularly dangerous for children during the war, with AOAV recording 
166 separate incidents where children were killed or injured by 
explosive weapons within their family homes.In one such incident 
<http://www.btselem.org/gaza_strip/2015_black_flag/a_dali_building> on 
July 29, Israel’s air force dropped a 2,000 pound aerial bomb on a 
three-story apartment block in Khan Younis, killing 18 children. There 
were a total of 33 fatalities in the bombing, which flattened the a-Dali 
building.Israel’s devastating use of force during the military operation 
meant that it was the individual state actor which caused the most 
reported civilian casualties from explosive weaponry in 2014, with 
Israeli attacks accounting for 44 percent of all global incidents of 
explosive violence.Over 84 percent of those attacks were reported in 
places where civilians were concentrated, far higher than the global 
average of 61 percent.“On average, AOAV recorded nine civilian deaths 
and injuries per explosive weapons attack in Gaza,” researcher Rob 
Perkins said.Although lower than rates in Iraq and Syria – two countries 
mired in brutal, intractable civil wars – Perkins says the high toll is 
suggestive of “how dangerous these weapons are even when aimed at a 
specific target.”A UN inquiry found that the Israeli military was 
responsible for seven attacks on UN schools in Gaza that were used as 
shelters during the 2014 war.In one incident on July 30, Israeli forces 
fired at least ten 155mm artillery shells near a UNRWA school for girls 
in Jabaliya which had been sheltering hundreds of displaced 
Palestinians.Dozens of people, including children, were killed in the 
attack, with UNRWA calling 
it a “source of universal shame” that “children were killed as they 
slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN 
designated shelter.”Perkins says that the use of powerful, imprecise and 
high impact explosive weaponry in densely populated areas means it is 
inevitable civilians will be killed in the crossfire.“AOAV agrees with 
the UN's Commission of Inquiry when it said that the use of artillery 
with wide-area effects is not appropriate in densely-populated areas,” 
he said.“Sadly this is what we saw last year in Gaza.”
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