Ramallah, 23 October – At least 2,000 children have been killed in Gaza over the past 17 days, and a further 27 killed in the West Bank, with constant airstrikes reducing thousands of buildings across the Gaza Strip to piles of smoking rubble. A further 27 children were killed in Israel, according to Israeli media.
Thousands of homes, and dozens of playgrounds, schools, hospitals, churches and mosques have been damaged or destroyed in Gaza, with at least 4,600 children injured as reported by the Ministry of Health - some with excruciating burns, lost limbs and other horrific blast injuries, and unable to receive adequate care. The damage to health infrastructures and the lack of medical supplies are forcing doctors to make impossible choices like performing surgery on hospital floors, often without anesthesia, and hampering their ability to treat patients with life-changing injuries.
Jason Lee, Save the Children’s Country Director for the occupied Palestinian territory, said:
“Active conflict, including relentless airstrikes, in such a small, densely populated city is leading to a shockingly high civilian death toll. Children are particularly vulnerable to the impact of explosive weapons - their bodies are thrown harder and further by the blasts. Their bones bend more, increasing the chances of long-term deformities with little chance of recovery. They have less blood to lose. They are unlikely to receive the specialist medical care they need, with health systems often at the point of collapse and fewer trained surgeons available. The lack of medicines, electricity, and much needed water in the hospitals means that facilities can barely function.
“With the death toll climbing, children are at risk and terrified. Children have been killed and injured in every major escalation, not to mention suffering from serious longer term mental health impacts – they’ve never emerged unscathed.
“There must be a ceasefire agreed immediately. It can’t come quickly enough. We call on all parties to take immediate steps to protect the lives of children, and on the international community to support those efforts. Everything possible must be done to protect children from harm – and provide them with the support they need. Children who need specialised and life-saving care must be able to receive it outside Gaza. The only way to truly protect children’s lives is to halt this violence.”
Children are seven times more likely to die from blast injuries than adults. They tend to experience different types of injuries than adults and require specialist care that accounts for their physiology and growth.
After a blast, children tend to suffer more internal damage than adults, as their underdeveloped skulls and muscles offer less protection to the brain, lungs, and organs. Research on the best ways to treat child-specific blast injuries lags far behind research for injured adults.
With the Gaza Strip a small, densely populated urban environment, relentless airstrikes are continuing to kill and injure children indiscriminately. Over 1 million children are trapped in the middle of the active conflict zone with no safe place to go and no route to safety.
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