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Displaced Palestinian children in Rafah. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“From devastating injuries sustained in airstrikes, to the trauma of being caught in violent clashes, their stories paint a harrowing picture of the human consequences of conflict.”

A UNICEF official has said that what struck her the most about her recent visit to the besieged Gaza Strip was the staggering number of wounded children whose lives have forever been “changed by the horrors of war.”

“The total number of injured children in this conflict is quite difficult to gather, but the most recent data from the Palestinian Ministry of Health documents more than 12,000 children – or almost 70 children every day – injured in Gaza since the current conflict began,” UNICEF Communication Specialist Tess Ingram told a UN press briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

Ingram, who left Gaza on Monday after spending two weeks there, said the figure was “almost certainly an underestimate because only a small number of all reported injuries are disaggregated to specify when it is a child that has been injured.”

“These children have become the faces of the ongoing war,” she said. “From devastating injuries sustained in airstrikes, to the trauma of being caught in violent clashes, their stories paint a harrowing picture of the human consequences of conflict.”

Harrowing Testimonies

The UNICEF official shared stories of wounded children that she had met.

“Imagine being strip-searched, left naked and questioned for hours. Told that you are safe and you can leave, you quickly walk away down the street, praying. But then, you are shot at. Your father is killed and a bullet penetrates your naked pelvis causing serious internal and external injuries that will require reconstructive surgery,” she said, adding that it was the story of Yousef, aged 14, that she met at field hospital in Khan Younis.

She also met: a 9-year-old girl with major open wounds from a blast; a 16-year-old girl, orphaned and recovering from a broken leg; a 13-year boy still recovering three months after a difficult arm amputation without anaesthetic, and “a 10-year-old boy in intensive care after being shot in the head while buying herbs – he died the next day.”

“That’s just five children of those injured in the past six months. I met so many others and there are thousands of similar stories, likely far exceeding 12,000,” said Ingram.

Disproportionate Impact

She said the thousands of injured children in Gaza reflect two things:

“(1) the nature of this war – volatile, often affecting civilians, including children, and costing tens of thousands of them their lives; and (2) its disproportionate impact on children – every second person in Gaza is a child.

Children are “wearing a tremendous share of the scars of this war,” the UNICEF representative said.

She also lamented that the thousands of injured in Gaza struggle to receive the medical care they need.

“The medical directors of some of the 11 partially functioning hospitals that remain told me that the lack of staff and supplies – needles, stitches, anaesthetic – is negatively impacting the care they can provide, especially for surgeries. And so injured children often languish in pain.”

Under 20 Medivacs a Day

She explained that medical evacuations are also difficult to get, with less than half of the patients who submitted requests for medical evacuation having been approved, according to WHO.

“Only about 3,500 people, mostly children, have been medically evacuated abroad. That’s less than 20 a day.”

Ingram explained that with at least 70 children injured every day, the number of medical evacuations has to increase “so children can access the care they urgently need.”

“And with one child killed or injured every ten minutes, above anything else, we need a ceasefire. It is the only way to stop the killing and maiming of children.”

Over 33,800 Killed

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, 33,843 Palestinians have been killed, and 76,575 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza.

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 war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly 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’.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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