Words fail to convey the brutality of the war unleashed by the Israeli occupying forces against the Gaza Strip over four months ago. This genocide will remain a dark milestone in the lives of Gaza’s children, marking the beginning of their journey into suffering and arduous life in its various facets. This horrific war has etched the features and meanings of childhood on this land, transforming Gaza’s children into individuals burdened by the hardships of life and subjected to the harsh realities one after another.
This war has taken a heavy toll on Gaza’s children, with the greatest impact on their lives. When discussing the number of martyrs and wounded, statistics from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) confirm that the cumulative number of martyrs since the beginning of the aggression has reached 26,901, of which 12,345 were children, along with over 65 thousand wounded, predominantly children and women.
More Than 6000 Children Have Been Killed
Dr. Khalil Al-Dakran, the media spokesman for the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah city in the central Gaza Strip, reports, “After 119 days of Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, more than 6,000 martyrs and about 18,000 wounded have reached Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, nearly half of whom were children.”
In addition to the psychological illnesses affecting children due to the war, many have lost limbs, and others have been severely injured, leaving a lasting impact on their lives. Save the Children Organization revealed that at least 10 children lose their legs every day in the Gaza Strip due to the ongoing Israeli war since October 7. The misery of children is undoubtedly escalating in the face of severe shortages of medicines, the closure of most hospitals, and multiple impediments to the travel of the wounded abroad, depicting chilling scenes of children struggling with death and their wounded bodies.
Al-Dakran further explains, “There is a health and environmental catastrophe endangering the lives of children in the strip. In the hospital, we have to place more than two children on one bed due to the large number of wounded and sick people.”
Winter’s Cold and Economic Despair
As Gaza’s children are forced to displace to shelters, they live in catastrophic conditions amid the cold winter and tragic economic circumstances. In the tent corners submerged in rainwater and under destruction, Gaza children shiver as the cold penetrates their bones, and diseases infiltrate their slender bodies.
Referring to the catastrophic situation in the shelter centers, Al-Dakran says, “The large number of displaced persons in unhealthy shelters has led to the prevalence of many diseases. Displacement places suffer from the lack of potable water, poor nutrition, the absence of milk for children, and the lack of the most basic necessities of life.”
Moreover, weird symptoms have circulated among displaced people residing in worn tents. Hepatitis, smallpox, and many infectious diseases have spread among large numbers of children due to cold, wet weather, overcrowding in shelters, scarce food, dirty water, and limited medicine. The Palestinian Ministry of Health has reported more than 700 thousand cases of infectious and dermatological diseases, colds, diarrhea, and hepatitis C among displaced people.
Jana Muhammad Jundia, a Palestinian child compelled to leave Gaza City for displacement camps in Deir al-Balah city due to violent Israeli bombardment, bears witness to this cataclysmic situation. Jundia says, “When we were in our house before the displacement, we were happy to feel warm and did not need firewood to heat the water. But since we lived in these tents, we have lost all sense of happiness. We are suffering here from the lack of food and clean water in the camp, especially during the extreme cold at night.”
Child Labor Soars
This barbaric war has also significantly increased child labor among the sector’s children, driven by the grinding economic conditions that force them to seek a source of livelihood, providing little money to alleviate their hunger. Reflecting the fear and terror of Gaza’s children, Sara Ahmed from the village of Al-Masdar says, “We left our house under intense shelling. I was very terrified when the Israeli occupation army started the ground military operation. There is no safe place in Gaza.”