Israel’s armed forces admitted on Wednesday that 189 Palestinian children under the age of 15 were killed during the assault on the Gaza Strip.
The first official figures released by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) of the casualties inflicted by the three-week campaign found that a total of 309 Palestinian civilians were killed. But the IDF said that armed fighters from Hamas and other militant movements accounted for most of the 1,370 dead.
The survey was disclosed as Benjamin Netanyahu, the incoming prime minister, presented himself as a peacemaker and assured Palestinians that his government would be their “partner”. One day after enlisting the Labour Party into a broad coalition, embracing Left and Right, Mr Netanyahu focused on his plans to help the Palestinian economy.
“I think that the Palestinians should understand that they have in our government a partner for peace, for security and for rapid economic development of the Palestinian economy,” said Mr Netanyahu while addressing a conference designed to win investment for both Israel and the Palestinian territories.
“Peace: It’s not the last goal. It’s a common and enduring goal for all Israelis and all Israeli governments – mine included,” he added.
But Mr Netanyahu did not go as far as to endorse a two-state solution, which forms the essential foundation for America’s plans for a peace settlement. In the past, he has consistently opposed the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza.