- Three paramedics – Anas Fadhel Na'im, Yaser Kamal Shbeir and Raf'at Abd al-'Al – were killed on 4 January in Gaza City by an Israeli missile as they walked towards two wounded men. A 12-year-old boy, Omar Ahmad al-Barade'e, who was showing them the way, was also killed.
- At about 6am on 17 January a white phosphorus artillery shell exploded in the UNRWA primary school in Beit Lahia, where more than 1,500 people were sheltering. Two children – Muhammad al-Ashqar and his brother Bilal – aged five and seven respectively, were killed. More than a dozen other civilians sheltering in the school were injured.
Use of civilians as 'human shields'
On several occasions Israeli soldiers used Palestinian civilians, including children, as "human shields" during military operations, or forced them to carry out dangerous tasks. Israeli soldiers also launched attacks from near inhabited houses.
- For two days from5 January, Israeli forces held Yousef Abu 'Ida, his wife Leila and their nine children as "human shields" in their home in Hay al-Salam, east of Jabalia, while they used the house as a military position. They then forced the family out and destroyed the house.
Humanitarian assistance blocked
Israeli forces deliberately blocked and otherwise impeded emergency relief and humanitarian assistance. They also attacked aid convoys and distribution centres, and medical personnel, prompting UNRWA and the ICRC to cut back on their operations in Gaza during the offensive.
- Several members of the al-Sammouni family bled to death in the days following an attack on 5 January on their home in the al-Zaytoun neighbourhood of Gaza City because the Israeli army did not allow ambulances or anyone else to rescue them. Children lay for three days without food or water next to the bodies of their dead relatives. In all, 29 members of the al-Sammouni family perished.
Gaza blockade – humanitarian crisis
The continuing Israeli military blockade of Gaza, in force since June 2007, deepened the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages left four in five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. The scope of the blockade and statements made by Israeli officials about its purpose showed that it was being imposed as a form of collective punishment of Gazans, a flagrant violation of international law.
Operation "Cast Lead" pushed the crisis to catastrophic levels. After it concluded, the blockade hampered or prevented reconstruction efforts. As a result, there was a further deterioration of water and sanitation services; more power cuts, causing severe problems in the summer heat and for public and health institutions; greater overcrowding in schools; more challenges for an already overstretched health system struggling with damaged facilities and higher demand; and little or no chance of economic recovery. Israel continued to deny farmers access to their land within 500m of the Gaza-Israel border, and to ban fishing further than three nautical miles from the shore.
Among those trapped in Gaza were people with serious illnesses who needed medical care outside Gaza, and students and workers needing to travel to take up university places or jobs in the West Bank or abroad.
- Samir al-Nadim died on 1 November after his exit from Gaza for a heart operation was delayed by 22 days. By the time the Israeli authorities allowed him to leave on 29 October, he was unconscious and on a respirator. He died of heart failure in a hospital in Nablus in the West Bank.
Restrictions in the West Bank
Israel's 700km fence/wall in the West Bank, which separates many Palestinians from their land, jobs and relatives, combined with long curfews, around 600 Israeli checkpoints, roadblocks and other closure obstacles, continued to disrupt the ability of Palestinians to access basic services, including educational and health facilities.