Mon 24 Jun 2024 3:05 pm - Jerusalem Time

Gaza war deprives Palestinian children of food, water and education

A UN official recently described the Israeli attack on Gaza as a “war on children,” with Palestinian youth living without food, education, and many other basic needs.

The spokesman for the United Nations Children's Aid Agency (UNICEF), James Elder, said in an interview with the "Democracy Now" website run by the well-known journalist, Amy Goodman, on Friday that the Israeli military operations in Gaza amount to a "war on children." He said he was in Gaza recently and tried to deliver aid to the children, but their truck was returned at an Israeli checkpoint.

He also said that he witnessed an Israeli war crime during his time inside Gaza. Elder explained that the Palestinians were fishing from the Gaza coast for hours before Israeli forces unexpectedly opened fire. He stated that he saw two men with injuries on the beach and that Israeli forces prevented international relief workers from providing medical care. Elder examined the bodies and saw that the men had been shot in the neck and back.

The situation for Palestinian children has become more difficult in light of the summer heat in Gaza. Elder said drought is a growing problem, and the scorching conditions increase the psychological burden on children. "The physical and psychological exhaustion they face is almost impossible to photograph," a UNICEF spokesperson explained.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims that the Strip is receiving an ample amount of food and other aid. However, aid agencies say that aid crossing into Gaza represents only a small portion of what is needed.

In addition, the chaos on the ground in Gaza makes it difficult to move aid throughout the Strip, even if it reaches within the border. The Israeli army said it had opened an aid route in the southern half of the Strip, where shipments were accumulating. The groups responsible for distributing aid say that Israeli military operations in Rafah have made the situation extremely dangerous.

Food shortages and fighting have left at least five children starving so far in June. Human rights groups and the United Nations expect that one million Gazans are on the verge of or are already in famine.

The US-based Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fews Net) reported that “regardless of whether famine thresholds (Phase 5) are reached or not, people are dying of hunger-related causes across Gaza.” “Acute malnutrition among children is very high, and this will lead to irreversible physiological effects.

In addition to food, Gaza's children are in dire need of clean water. The UN Human Rights Office estimates that two-thirds of Gaza's water and sanitation systems have been destroyed.

The “Democracy Now” program quoted Dr. Ahmed Al-Fari, head of the pediatric departments at Nasser Hospital: “It is no secret that the biggest cause of intestinal infections currently occurring in the Gaza Strip is the contamination of the water provided to these children.” “The first problem is intestinal infections with vomiting and diarrhea that cause dehydration. The second problem is hepatitis C or A, which are no less dangerous than intestinal infections, if not more serious.

Children in Gaza have been suffering from interrupted education and a severe lack of medical care over the past eight months. 69% of Gaza's schools were damaged or destroyed, and its hospitals saw patient beds reduced by 70%.


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Gaza war deprives Palestinian children of food, water and education