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Israel-Palestine: More than 1,000 Palestinian children killed in Gaza air strikes, NGO reveals

Israeli offensive killing a child every 15 minutes in besieged enclave
A Palestinian woman and children in the aftermath of Israeli air strikes, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, 14 October 2023 (Reuters)
A Palestinian woman and children in the aftermath of Israeli air strikes, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, 14 October 2023 (Reuters)

The death toll of Palestinian children has exceeded 1,000 since Israel unleashed a week of deadly air strikes on Gaza on 7 October, the NGO Defence for Children International (DCI) has revealed.

The DCI reported that Israeli bombardment of the besieged strip had killed more than 100 children a day - amounting to one child every 15 minutes.

The assault followed an unprecedented attack in which Palestinian fighters led by Hamas breached the barrier fence surrounding the besieged enclave and killed more than 1,300 people.

The Gaza Strip is an area of about 365 sq km, and home to 2.3 million Palestinians, about half of whom are children.

The death toll in Gaza from Israeli bombardment since the start of the war has reached 2,808.

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The NGO emphasised that the numbers, based on those provided by the Ministry of Health, only account for people admitted to hospitals. With an estimated 1000 Palestinians still under rubble according to the Ministry of Interior, the death toll is likely to be higher.

The DCI said that the cutting of electricity and fuel supplies to Gaza means that Palestinian children are suffering the psychological impacts of the “increasingly dire humanmade humanitarian crisis”.

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Lack of electricity has exacerbated food scarcity, making refigeration impossible. Additionally, the cutting of water to Gaza means many children are now resorting to contaminated water sources, according to Unicef.

"The repercussions of this war will not only affect the victims we have lost... but the psychological impact on us civilians and our children will be catastrophic,” said Mohammad Abu Rukbeh, a senior Gaza field researcher at DCI's Palestine branch.

According to the NGO, the psychological toll on children who have survived the air strikes in Gaza is compounded by pre-existing traumas sustained from a 16-year siege on the strip.

'The emotional repercussions for these children are profound'

- Defence for Children International

Prior to the current offensive, one in four Gaza children were already in need of psychosocial support, over half were dependent on humanitarian assistance for their survival, with four out of five living with depression, grief and fear.

"The emotional repercussions for these children are profound, as they grapple not only with the pain of the current situation in their city but also with the daunting challenge of navigating life without the foundational support of their families," the NGO said.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian politician MK Aida Touma-Sliman said in the Knesset that "no child, neither Jew nor Palestinian, is guilty and that no child should be a victim of this blood cycle".

In response MK Merav Ben-Ari, a member of the centrist Yesh Atid party, said: "The children in Gaza brought it upon themselves."

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