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GAZA: One in 50 of Gaza’s children killed or injured in six months of war

RAMALLAH, 4 April 2024 – Nearly 26,000 children – or just over two percent of Gaza’s child population - have been killed or injured in Gaza in six months of a war which has decimated the health system and severed access to education, Save the Children said.

Since the 7 October attacks in which 33 children were killed in Israel, more than 13,800 children have been killed in Gaza and 113 in the West Bank, and over 12,009 children have been injured in Gaza and at least 725 children in the West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Ministry of Health in Gaza. UNICEF has reported at least 1,000 children have had one or both legs amputated, and about 30 out of 36 hospitals have been bombed, leaving only 10 partially functioning.

Attacks on ambulances, medical aid convoys and access roads have decimated Gaza’s health system and undermined access to healthcare at the time when the 1.1 million children in Gaza need it most.

A two-week siege and attack on Gaza's biggest medical facility, Al-Shifa Hospital, has left most of the complex in ruins, cutting off one of a precious few remaining lifelines for children in need of medical treatment. According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, dozens of bodies have been found inside and outside the hospital.

Education in Gaza is also under attack. There are 625,000 registered students in Gaza but no child has had formal education since October as relentless bombardment and hostilities have left nearly 90% of all school buildings damaged or destroyed. About 261 teachers have been killed and 1.4 million people are now using schools as shelters.

It is feared the destruction of schools will have a lasting impact on a generation whose learning will remain in jeopardy even after hostilities cease.

Save the Children has warned that the distress caused by bombs and bereavements is leaving children increasingly struggling to cope. Mental health and child protection experts fear lasting psychosocial impacts.

Some parents have told Save the Children that some children struggle to see a future for themselves and are focused solely instead on survival.

Ahmed*, a 37-year-old father of one, was displaced from Gaza city to Rafah. He said:

“We fled towards the south on 25 March. On our way to Rafah, we saw small, decomposed bodies near the Beidar area. Our children are seeing things no child should ever see.

A 14-year-old child in our building was going out with his father to get food and he fell and injured his right hand. He needed stitches to stop the bleeding, but his father was too scared to go to Al Shifa hospital, due to the bombing and lack of medical staff. His father and I helped dress the child’s wound, but we couldn’t sterilize it properly.”

The war in Gaza, which followed the killing of around 1,200 people in Israel and the abduction of scores of people – 130 of whom are still held hostage, according to the Israeli authorities -  stands among the deadliest and most destructive in recent history. It has led to a litany of grave violations against children being recorded:

  • Children in Gaza have been killed and maimed at an unprecedented rate. More than 13,800 Palestinian children have been killed in Gaza, and 33 Israeli children were killed by armed groups in the 7 October attacks. At least 725 children have been injured since 7 October in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 114 have been killed.
  • So many hospitals in Gaza have been destroyed that most children are unable to get even the most basic treatment or pain management
  • Israeli children who were abducted and held hostage in Gaza have reportedly been subjected to violence, with lasting impacts on their mental health and wellbeing. At least 460 Palestinian children have been detained since 7 October, with some telling Save the Children’s partners of inhumane treatment in detention.

The life-saving supplies on which families across Gaza rely have been restricted by Israel, with recent data finding that half of the population is facing catastrophic food insecurity, and children and families in northern Gaza are at imminent risk of famine.

Xavier Joubert, Save the Children Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territory, said:

“Over 180 days of violence have rendered Gaza unrecognizable and killed or injured over 2% of Gaza’s child population. Those who have survived so far have dwindling chances of continuing to do so. This war is not only destroying Gaza, but also the fundamental tenets of childhood. Relentless bombs and hostilities are causing potential ‘domicide’  of homes and infrastructure, with a reported 70% of homes damaged or destroyed. We’ve seen it in other conflicts, but this may be the highest share of homes destroyed in such a short time. The world must act now to ensure an immediate and definitive ceasefire and unfettered humanitarian access to end the horrifying  destruction of life in Gaza. As with all children, we owe children in Gaza a dignified future -  but at this rate, they are at risk of having no future at all.

Save the Children has been providing essential services and support to Palestinian children impacted by the ongoing conflict since 1953. Save the Children’s team in the occupied Palestinian territory has been working around the clock, prepositioning vital supplies to support people in need, and working to find ways to get assistance into Gaza.    


Notes to Editors

‘Domicide’ is the widespread or systematic destruction of homes, often during conflict. A higher share of homes was destroyed in the last six months in Gaza than in any other recent conflict where large destruction was noted. 290,000 homes were destroyed or damaged in Gaza, representing over 70% of all homes (Shelter Cluster). The number of homes damaged or destroyed in other conflicts is as follows: 2,000,000 (10%) in Ukraine, 2022-23 (Third Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment by the World Bank, UN, EU and Ukraine government); 648,527 (17%) in Syria, 2011-17 (UN Habitat); 70,108 (4%) in two-most affected states of Myanmar, 2021-23 (according to the unverified Data for Myanmar project but cited by UN OCHA); 321,273 (59%) in the 16 cities in Iraq most affected by the conflict with  ISIS, 2014-17 (World Bank).

For further enquiries please contact:media@savethechildren.org.uk / +44(0)7831 650409