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“A Curse to Be a Parent in Gaza”: The Tragic Toll on Children in the Israel-Hamas Conflict

Tragedy continues to unfold in the Gaza Strip as the Israel-Hamas war, which erupted on October 7, has claimed nearly 10,000 Palestinian lives, with around 4,800 children among the victims, according to Gaza's Health Ministry UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) spokesperson, James Elder.

In total, there are around 16,50,000 children in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian foreign ministry said. "About 1,950 civilians, including at least 1,050 children, in Gaza Strip, are still under the rubble," it said on Sunday. Meanwhile, about 1,250 children among 2,000 people are reported missing, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Palestinian territory.

According to WHO Ministry of Health data, 2326 women and 3760 children have been killed in the Gaza strip, representing 67% of all casualties, while thousands more have been injured. This means that 420 children are killed or injured every day, some of them only a few months old.

These innocent children were struck by airstrikes, misfired rockets, explosions, and collapsing buildings, highlighting the horrific consequences of the ongoing conflict.Nearly half of Gaza's 2.3 million residents are under 18, with children accounting for 40% of the total casualties recorded so far. An analysis by the Associated Press of Gaza Health Ministry data revealed that, as of October 26, 2,001 children aged 12 and under have perished, including a devastating 615 who were 3 years old or younger.

Palestinian children under rubble

As the conflict rages on, the tragic stories continue to emerge. One such heartbreaking account is that of writer Adam al-Madhoun, who, on Wednesday, consoled his 4-year-old daughter Kenzi at the Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah. Kenzi miraculously survived an airstrike that resulted in the loss of her right arm, a crushed left leg, and a fractured skull.These heart-wrenching stories have become all too common in Gaza, where homes and neighborhoods are being reduced to rubble, often with children trapped inside.

The Israeli government contends that its airstrikes are targeting Hamas militant sites and infrastructure, accusing the group of using civilians as human shields. They also acknowledge that over 500 militant rockets have misfired, tragically landing in Gaza and causing casualties among Palestinian civilians.

The scale of the tragedy in Gaza is staggering, with more children losing their lives in just over three weeks than in all of the world's conflicts combined over the past three years, as reported by global charity Save the Children. This devastating reality underscores the urgent need for peace in the region.

Dead Bodies of childrens

"Gaza has become a graveyard for thousands of children," lamented James Elder, a spokesperson for UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund. Images and footage of shell-shocked children emerging from the rubble in Gaza have become all too common, provoking protests around the world. These scenes, including rescuers cradling lifeless toddlers and distraught parents clinging to their deceased children, have been etched into the collective consciousness.

Scenes of targeting children are very horrific; videos showing parents collecting their children’s remains from the ground at the Gaza Baptist Hospital, which was shelled by Israel on Oct. 17, went viral on social media. Other children were forced to undergo surgeries without anesthesia due to the shortage of medicines and medical supplies all over the hospitals since Israel imposed a complete siege on the strip. Children who were forced with families to move from the north of the strip of the south couldn’t survive the Israeli shelling; bodies of Palestinians, including children, were found on Al Rashid Street in Gaza on Friday.

The besieged strip has no access to water after Israel cut off water, electricity, food, and fuel from Gaza, which constitutes another torture and genocide being committed against children.

A woman carrying his children under rubble

“More than one million children in Gaza also have a water crisis.  Gaza’s water production capacity is a mere 5 percent of its usual daily output.  Child deaths – particularly infants - to dehydration are a growing threat,” Elder added in the press conference on Oct. 30.

On Oct. 28, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Catherine Russell, expressed the organization's concern about the terror that one million children are experiencing under the bombardment in Gaza as a result of the continuous bombing carried out by the Israeli occupation forces.

The conflict has left parents in Gaza grappling with profound grief and despair. 

It is important to note that Israeli children have also tragically lost their lives in the conflict. Hamas' brutal rampage in southern Israel on October 7, which triggered the war, resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 people, including babies and small children, according to Israeli officials. About 30 children were among the roughly 240 hostages taken by Hamas during this period.

As Israeli warplanes relentlessly pound Gaza, Palestinian children find shelter with their families in apartments or in U.N.-run shelters. Despite Israel's calls for residents to move to the southern part of the strip for safety, nowhere within Gaza has proven to be immune to the devastating airstrikes.

Amid the ongoing chaos, mass destruction and bombing, children are among the worst-affected sections of the society. According to officials, 246 schools across Gaza had been bombed amid hostilities as of November 2.

"People are running from death only to find death," expressed Yasmine Jouda, who tragically lost 68 family members during the October 22 airstrikes that razed two four-story buildings in Deir al-Balah. These families had sought refuge from the violence in northern Gaza.

The sole survivor of this tragic incident was Jouda's one-year-old niece, Milissa, whose mother went into labor during the attack. Tragically, the mother was found lifeless beneath the rubble, with the lifeless bodies of her twin newborns emerging from her birth canal.

The UN experts expressed “deepening horror” about Israeli airstrikes against the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza since October 31, which have reportedly killed and injured hundreds of Palestinians, calling it a brazen breach of international law.

A visual analysis by the Guardian has identified at least five craters in the densely populated refugee camp, which weapons experts said were left by the use of multiple JDAMs – joint direct attack munitions – in the airstrike.

Israeli strikes on houses in al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza

The blame game between Israel and Hamas continues, with each side accusing the other of causing the escalating death toll. Palestinians argue that Israeli strikes are indiscriminate and disproportionate, while Israel insists that Hamas uses civilian areas for military operations.

The consequences of this relentless war on children are immeasurable.The conflict's impact extends beyond the physical injuries, leaving psychological scars on the survivors. For those fortunate enough to emerge physically unscathed, the mental and emotional trauma will persist for generations.

In this war-ravaged region, Gaza's children face a grim reality. It is their fifth Israel-Hamas conflict since Hamas seized control of the enclave in 2007. These young individuals have grown up in a world defined by a punishing Israeli-Egyptian blockade, which restricts their access to opportunities for a better future. With a 70% youth unemployment rate, according to the World Bank, these children face formidable challenges in achieving their dreams.

Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director for Defense for Children International in the Palestinian territories, emphasized, "There is no hope for these children to develop careers, improve their standard of living, access better healthcare and education."

For these children, it's not just about surviving; it's a matter of life and death. In Gaza, "Death is everywhere", and the world must not turn a blind eye to the unbearable suffering of its children.

As the Israel-Hamas conflict continues to claim lives, the urgent need for a lasting and peaceful resolution becomes increasingly evident. Gaza, once again, finds itself trapped in a cycle of violence, leaving children and parents grappling with the heavy burden of its devastating consequences.


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Tags: #Gaza #UnitedNations #IsraelPalestineconflict #Childrendying


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