International

Palestinian Children Biggest Casualty Of Israel's War With Hamas

More children have died in the Gaza Strip in the last 25 days than in armed conflicts across 20 countries in a whole year, for the last three years.

AP Photo/Hatem Moussa, File
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In the past 25 days, over 3,600 Palestinian children have been killed as Israel continues to bomb the Gaza Strip, as per reports. Amid growing concern and Israel's unrelenting attitude with a ceasefire nowhere in sight, the UNICEF has dubbed Gaza as a “graveyard for thousands of children”. As per reports, among those killed were “newborns and toddlers, avid readers, aspiring journalists and boys who thought they’d be safe in a church”. The total death toll at the time of writing had crossed 9.000. 

The scale of violence and its impact on children is evident from a Save the Children report which states that the number of children casualties in just these three weeks is higher than child casualties in armed conflicts across 20 countries in a whole year, for the last three years. It states that 2,985 children were killed across two dozen war zones throughout all of last year. 

The number of children deaths in the West Bank, where over 800 people have been killed in Israeli airstrikes, remains at 29 while 28 children have lost their lives in Israel. 

While the number of official casualties is staggering, experts believe that hundreds of children remain injured or buried under rubble in Gaza while thousands have been injured. 

Like 4-year-old Kenzi who survived an airstrike that ripped off her right arm, crushed her left leg and fractured her skull. The daughter of Adam al-Madhoun, she is currently recovering in Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the central Gaza city of Deir al-Balah, according to a report in Associated Press. 

Or the year-old baby Milissa, the only survivor of an airstrike on two four-story buildings in Deir al-Balah where a large family had been hiding. 68 members of the family were wiped out in that airstrike including Milissa’s pregnant mother who had gone into labour during the attack and was found dead beneath the rubble, the heads of her lifeless twin newborns emerging from her birth canal. 

Scenes from recent airstrikes in Gaza include devastating images of a rescuer cradling a limp toddler in a bloodied white tutu, a bespectacled father shrieking as he clutched his dead child tight to his chest, and a dazed young boy covered in blood and dust staggering alone through the ruins. As per reports, at least 7,000 Palestinian children have been left injured, many with life-changing problems. 

For 15-year-olds in Gaza, it’s their fifth Israel-Hamas war since the militant group seized control of the enclave in 2007. All they’ve known is life under a punishing Israeli-Egyptian blockade that prevents them from travelling abroad and crushes their hopes for the future. The strip has a 70 per cent youth unemployment rate, according to the World Bank.

In what has been dubbed as “collective punishment”, the Israeli forces have continued to bomb civilian parts of Gaza including residential buildings and hospitals in their attempt to “exterminate” Hamas from the face of the Earth, leading to massive civilian casualties. The Israeli airstrikes come in response to Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel which left 1,400 dead. Israeli authorities have claimed that Hamas operatives killed babies and children in Israel but have provided no concrete data about the same. As per reports, 30 children were among those abducted by Hamas and taken as hostages.

In a recent UN Security Council meeting, Philippe Lazzarini who heads the UN relief agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) called for an end to such “collateral damage” being inflicted on Palestine. The UN has also noted that “almost every child in the Gaza Strip has been exposed to deeply distressing events and trauma, marked by widespread destruction, relentless attacks, displacement, and severe shortages of essential necessities such as food, water, and medicine”. 

Experts and human rights advocates fear higher casualties with Israel continuing to dehydrate Gaza by cutting of water and electric supply. The war has also splintered Gaza’s humanitarian aid lifelines for food, water, fuel, medicines and shelter with devastating consequences for children. 

At the end of the First World War, the plight of hungry German children suffering due to a Britain-induced drought had led Eglantyne Jebb, the founder of Save the Children, to declare that “The only international language in the world…is the cry of a child.” 

The children of Palestine are crying for help but it seems the word has turned a deaf ear. 

(With inputs from AP)

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