Source: Save The Children
Save the Children is urging the international community to use its influence with parties to the conflict to seek an urgent path to de-escalation as fatalities in Gaza and southern Israel continue to soar. In Gaza 119 Palestinians civilians have been killed, including 31 children[i]. In southern Israel, seven Israeli civilians have been killed, including two children.
As bombardments in Gaza and southern Israel continue, Save the Children can confirm that at least thirty-one schools and a health facility in Gaza have been damaged by Israeli airstrikes. The 31 schools in Gaza are attended by over 24,000 children. One school has been damaged by rockets in southern Israel, where all schooling has been suspended due to the violence, impacting thousands of children. Violence in communities within Israel is also of concern.
Families in Gaza have been spending Eid sheltering in their homes. Dalia*, 10, told Save the Children:
“There are sounds of loud explosions all the time. They are very sudden. We’re living in fear, stress and horror all the time. Even during Eid, we are not celebrating or wearing nice clothes, we haven’t visited anyone, they took the joy of Eid from us.”
Save the Children’s Gaza Communications Officer, Mazen Naim, his wife and three young children, have been sheltering in their bedroom since Monday. He told us:
“Earlier this morning my children and I left the room to stretch our legs when suddenly the next-door building was hit. I heard a loud explosion and the kids were screaming. They were so frightened. We ran and hid in our bedroom and the explosions carried on. We heard a second and a third and maybe more, I lost count. Debris was falling and we could hear the neighbours screaming as well. After the dust settled we saw the ambulances come for them. Who knows what will happen next.”
Save the Children’s Gaza Field Manager, Ibrahim Abu Sobeih, like many has had to evacuate his neighbourhood with his family, he said:
“We keep telling my young daughter and son that the heavy shelling is celebrations, fireworks, what a joke! We resort to different ways to distract their attention from this awful atmosphere but all are in vain.”
Civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected from attack, in accordance with international humanitarian law. All parties must immediately end attacks on schools and take steps to ensure that they are not used for military purposes which places students at grave risk. With every school that is damaged or destroyed, children’s prospects of experiencing – and building – a better future diminish.
The international community must take every possible step and use its influence to bring this situation back from the brink, end the violence and tackle the underlying causes. Children’s lives and futures will become the inevitable cost of inaction.
[i] Gaza Ministry of Health
Notes to editors:
Save the Children is one of the largest non-governmental organisations working in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip addressing the immediate humanitarian and long-term development needs of children and adults. We have over 30 years of experience on the ground and currently implement programs in the areas of education, child protection, livelihoods and economic opportunities, and psychosocial health. We also provide water and sanitation services and health and nutrition services to women and children.
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