LONDON/TULKARM/VATICAN: More than 50 members of the same family have been killed in the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza during Israel’s military campaign there, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Wednesday.
“Only this morning, from the Qadoura family in Jabalia, 52 people have been wiped out completely, killed,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said on the sidelines of a briefing by Arab and Muslim foreign ministers in London.
“I have the list of the names, 52 of them, they were wiped out completely from grandfather to grandchildren.”
Six Palestinians were shot dead in an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
More than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers across the West Bank since the Hamas attacks on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7, according to the ministry.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said the Israeli army stormed the refugee camp in the northern city of Tulkarem and briefly detained a 16-year-old with shrapnel wounds to his face.
A 26-year-old young woman “beaten by the Israeli army” had been transferred to hospital, the Red Crescent added.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said that it treated a total of 26 injured, including four with bullet wounds, in the West Bank towns of Tulkarem, Bethlehem, Tubas and Qalqilya.
Israeli officials say an estimated 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed across southern Israel in the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7.
Pope Francis on Wednesday met separately with Israeli relatives of hostages held by Hamas and Palestinians with family in Gaza and said the conflict had gone beyond war to become “terrorism.”
Speaking in unscripted remarks at his general audience in St. Peter’s Square shortly after the meetings in his residence, Francis said he heard directly how “both sides are suffering” in the conflict.
“This is what wars do. But here we have gone beyond wars. This is not war. This is terrorism,” he said.
He asked for prayers so that both sides would “not go ahead with passions, which, in the end,
During the general audience, a group of Palestinians in the crowd held up pictures of bodies wrapped in white cloth and a placard saying “the Nakba continues.”
Nakba is the Arab word for catastrophe and refers to the displacement and dispossession of Palestinians in the 1948 war that surrounded Israel’s founding.
Meanwhile, the head of the UN children’s agency called the besieged Gaza Strip “the most dangerous place in the world to be a child,” and said that the hard-won truce deal was not enough to save their lives.
UNICEF’s executive director Catherine Russell told the UN Security Council that over 5,300 children have reportedly been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, accounting for 40 percent of the deaths.
“This is unprecedented,” said Russell, who had just returned from a trip to southern Gaza. “I am haunted by what I saw and heard.”
Russell said that a pause is not enough and called for “an urgent humanitarian ceasefire to immediately put a stop to this carnage.”
“For children to survive … for humanitarian workers to stay and effectively deliver … humanitarian pauses are simply not enough,” she said. Russell said that an additional 1,200 children are believed to remain under the rubble of bombed-out buildings or are otherwise unaccounted for.
“In addition to bombs, rockets, and gunfire, Gaza’s children are at extreme risk from catastrophic living conditions,” Russell added.
“One million children — or all children inside the territory — are now food insecure, facing what could soon become a catastrophic nutrition crisis.”
UNICEF estimates that acute malnutrition in children could increase by nearly 30 percent in Gaza over the next months.
Also addressing the Security Council, the head of the UN Population Fund, Natalia Kanem, drew attention to the plight of Gaza’s pregnant women, with some 5,500 expected to deliver babies under appalling conditions in the coming month.
“At a moment when new life is beginning, what should be a moment of joy is overshadowed by death and destruction, horror and fear,” said Kanem.