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Israeli officials have slammed as ‘immoral’ an operation to transfer 68 orphaned children from Gaza to the West Bank. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

​​​​​“I demand clarification from the prime minister on who gave this immoral order and with what authority, while our hostages and their children are held captive by the enemy,” Smotrich said.

Two Israeli government ministers have slammed an Israeli army operation to transfer 68 Palestinian children, said to be orphans, from Gaza’s southern area of Rafah to the occupied West Bank, in an operation initiated by an NGO and assisted by Germany’s embassy in Tel Aviv.

According to a statement by the SOS Children’s Village Rafah, the children and 11 employees of the organization “have been evacuated.”

“We have worked through diplomatic channels with all relevant authorities to bring the children and adults to Bethlehem in the West Bank, where they arrived safely on 11 March,” the NGO said in a statement on Tuesday.

The children, aged between two and 14 years, the statement added, are in the care of SOS Children’s Villages, “as they had already lost parental care before the war.”

Reportedly quoting a rabbinic adage, far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said on X, “He who is compassionate to the cruel will ultimately become cruel to the compassionate.​”​

​​​​​“I demand clarification from the prime minister on who gave this immoral order and with what authority, while our hostages and their children are held captive by the enemy,” Smotrich added.

“This is not how a country that strives for absolute victory is run,” Ben-Gvir is quoted as having said in the Anadolu report. “In war, you have to crush the enemy, without being sanctimonious all the time.”

‘Taking Advantage’

The official Palestinian news agency, WAFA, reported the Palestinian Minister of Social Development, Ahmad Majdalani, as having said that “the occupation government tried to employ this step positively to its advantage in light of its killing of children and civilians.”

He said his department, “in cooperation and coordination with the German government, helped transfer” the children “temporarily, until the end of the current war.”

“We will be able to return them to the institution in the city of Rafah,” he said.

17,000 Children without One or Both Parents

About 17,000 children in the Gaza Strip are now living without one or both of their parents due to killing or arrests by Israeli forces since they began their assault against Palestinians on October 7.

According to the Director-General of the Gaza Media Office Ismail al-Thawabteh “around 17,000 Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip have been living without their parents since the genocide began, with some of them losing both parents due to martyrdom, arrest, or disappearance.” He spoke at a press conference at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, reports the Anadolu news agency.

UNICEF also estimates that “at least 17,000 children in the Gaza Strip are unaccompanied or separated.”

According to UNICEF State of Palestine Chief of Communication, Jonathan Crickx, this figure “corresponds to 1% of the overall displaced population – 1.7 million people.”

Gaza Genocide Continues

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7. 

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 31,341 Palestinians have been killed, and 73,134 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire.’

(PC, Anadolu, WAFA)

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