"The last 48 hours have been the bloodiest."
21st July 2014 - Children, rather than combatants, are bearing the brunt of the ongoing conflict. One in five people being killed are children, and the number of children dying in this operation has risen by more than 40 per cent since the ground operation into Gaza began on 17 July. Almost a third of the Palestinians injured are children. Beyond the unacceptable death toll, more than 72,000 children in Gaza are in desperate need of counselling and support after losing close family members, suffering injuries and seeing their homes destroyed. In Israel, we also know that children living in areas under rocket attack are fearing for their lives. Israelis have died too as Israel seeks to end rocket fire from Gaza.
What we're seeing is a war on children who are trapped within the boundaries of Gaza. They have nowhere to flee to and many families are seeking refuge in schools and hospitals which are also now vulnerable to fire.
Save the Children's David Hassell said: "The last 48 hours have been the bloodiest, raising concerns about respect for the principles of civilian protection and proportionality under international humanitarian law. We call on both parties to this conflict to respect the protection afforded to hospitals and schools, and recognise that they should not be targetted when innocent people have no other choice of refuge.”
An average of seven children are being killed every day in Gaza and up to 70 injured, while medical stocks are in extremely short supply. Save the Children today opened its warehouse for its health partners in Gaza, distributing medical items, new-born kits and first aid kits to hospitals and clinics. It is also distributing hygiene kits to displaced families. More than 100,000 people have left their homes, half of them children.
Save the Children and local partners have also been visiting hundreds of children in hospitals and at their homes in extremely dangerous circumstances to assess their psycho-social needs.
"For many children, this is the third war in six years that they are going through," Mr Hassell said. "Besides the immense destruction of civilian infrastructure, we find that children are once again being traumatised, and will again need longer term care and treatment to be able to recover, and have some sense of normality restored to their lives. The international community owes it to them to push for an immediate ceasefire but also an agreement between all parties to the conflict that will bring a lasting difference, including the lifting of the blockade of Gaza."
Save the Children is on the ground in Gaza. To arrange interviews or for further information, please contact: Osama Y. Damo in Gaza +972 (0)59 7911 086, Osama.Damo@savethechildren.org