More than 8,663 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza since October 7, according to the government media office, which added that thousands more are missing under the rubble amid relentless bombardment.
An overwhelming number of more than 21,000 people killed in the nearly three months of Israeli bombardment, which is the most destructive in recent history, have been civilians. Israel has repeatedly targeted schools and even neo-natal care centres were have not been spared, resulting in the killing of newborn babies.
According to Save the Children data in early November, a child was being killed every 10 minutes. The UN has called the besieged Palestinian enclave “a graveyard” for children due to the high casualty figures.
“Our gravest fears about the reported numbers of children killed becoming dozens, then hundreds, and ultimately thousands were realised in just a fortnight,” James Elder, a spokesperson for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said on October 31.
“Gaza has become a graveyard for thousands of children. It’s a living hell for everyone else.”
The Defence for Children International-Palestine, an NGO, said early last month that Israeli forces killed twice as many Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip in October as the total number of Palestinian children killed in the occupied West Bank and Gaza combined since 1967.
In nearly two years of the Russia-Ukraine war, 510 children were killed, which represents a little less than one child per day.
Last week, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned that limited access to clean water and sanitation amid Israel’s relentless bombardment posed a grave risk to children in Gaza.
Displaced children in southern Gaza do not have enough water to meet their basic survival needs, the UN Children Agency’s Executive Director Catherine Russell said.
“Without safe water, many more children will die from deprivation and disease in the coming days,” Russel said.
In the southern city of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of people – half of them estimated to be children – have fled since the beginning of December, water and sanitation situation systems are “in an extremely critical state”, Russel added.
The water shortages have already contributed to 20 times the monthly average of cases of diarrhoea among children under the age of five, she said.
More than half a million people in Gaza – a quarter of the population – are starving, according to a report from the United Nations and other agencies released on Thursday.
Israel launched the brutal war in the wake of the Hamas attack that left some 1,139 people dead. The Palestinian resistance group also took some 240 people captive. Israel has pledged to continue its military offensive until what it calls the destruction of Hamas and the release of all the captives.
But its military tactics have been criticised for the widespread bombardment that has caused unprecedented destruction and loss of lives. Human rights organisations and UN agencies have spoken against Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinian people.