1. Home
  2. Middle East and North Africa
  3. Israel

Gaza’s children in the firing line

Palestinian children suffer tremendous psychological trauma in the midst of Israeli bombardment
(Life)

Gaza’s children - some 56 percent of Gaza's 1.5 million people - are struggling to survive the Israeli offensive which began on 27 December. 



Read more Gaza reports



According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 660 Palestinians have been killed since 27 December, including 176 children and 86 women; 2,950 have been injured, of whom 40 percent are children and 18 percent women.



When asked about the high number of child fatalities, Israeli Defence Ministry spokesman Maj Peter Lerner told IRIN: “Hamas is taking advantage of the civilian population, using them as shields.”



A statement released by the Israeli Foreign Ministry on 6 January said: “Israel is doing all it can to avoid harming non-combatants; any collateral injury to them is the responsibility of Hamas.”



Children are vulnerable for other reasons: 50,000 of them were malnourished in Gaza before the offensive, and half of those under two had anaemia, according to Save the Children.



Furthermore, all primary healthcare services for the population, including vaccination services, have stopped, according to the WHO, placing children at risk of diseases such as hepatitis and measles.



An estimated one million people, including 560,000 children, are living without water or electricity, said Save the Children. Lack of electricity for heating at night presents a hypothermia risk for children, particularly babies and newborns, it added.


According to the WHO, on 8 January 176 children has been killed by the Israeli army and 1,180 injured

Life
According to the WHO, on 8 January 176 children has been killed by the Israeli army and 1,180 injured
http://www.lifeusa.org/
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Les enfants de Gaza dans la ligne de tir
According to the WHO, on 8 January 176 children has been killed by the Israeli army and 1,180 injured


Photo: Life
According to the WHO, on 8 January 176 children had been killed by the Israeli army and 1,180 injured

Traumatised



“Children have become traumatised and very anxious, constantly on alert due to the continuous bombing,” said psychiatrist Eyad al-Sarraj, head of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, which operates nine mental health clinics in Gaza. “Children are restless, sleepless, aggressive, and bedwetting is common.”



“I can hear the bombing from inside my house. Every window in our home has been shattered,” said a 13-year-old girl from Gaza City. She has been trapped at home with her mother and two brothers without electricity for nine days. “I am terrified, I can’t eat, sleep, or drink.” Her family only has one day’s supply of drinking water at home.



Lana Shaheen, 36, a mother of two from a different family also in Gaza City, said: “The fear is overwhelming; my children cry uncontrollably due to the air strikes and the noise of the shelling.”



Children are at risk of long-term psychological damage, according to al-Sarraj: “Children have lost the father figure as protector and they will seek militant groups to join to replace him.”



es/ar/cb


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

Hundreds of thousands of readers trust The New Humanitarian each month for quality journalism that contributes to more effective, accountable, and inclusive ways to improve the lives of people affected by crises.

Our award-winning stories inform policymakers and humanitarians, demand accountability and transparency from those meant to help people in need, and provide a platform for conversation and discussion with and among affected and marginalised people.

We’re able to continue doing this thanks to the support of our donors and readers like you who believe in the power of independent journalism. These contributions help keep our journalism free and accessible to all.

Show your support as we build the future of news media by becoming a member of The New Humanitarian. 

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.

Join