The number of children reported killed in Gaza in just three weeks has surpassed the annual number of children killed across the world’s conflict zones since 2019, Save the Children said.
Since October 7, more than 3,257 children have been reported killed, including at least 3,195 in Gaza, 33 in the West Bank, and 29 in Israel, according to the Ministries of Health in Gaza and Israel respectively. The number of children reported killed in just three weeks in Gaza is more than the number killed in armed conflict globally – across more than 20 countries – over the course of a whole year, for the last three years.
Children make up more than 40% of the 7,703 people killed in Gaza, and more than a third of all fatalities across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel. With a further 1,000 children reported missing in Gaza assumed buried under the rubble, the death toll is likely much higher.
On Friday, Israeli forces announced “expanded ground operations” in the Gaza Strip, with Save the Children warning it will bring more deaths, injuries and distress while calling for an immediate ceasefire.
Save the Children Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territory Jason Lee, said:
“Three weeks of violence have ripped children from families and torn through their lives at an unimaginable rate. The numbers are harrowing and with violence not only continuing but expanding in Gaza right now, many more children remain at grave risk.
“One child’s death is one too many, but these are grave violations of epic proportions. A ceasefire is the only way to ensure their safety. The international community must put people before politics – every day spent debating is leaving children killed and injured. Children must be protected at all times, especially when they are seeking safety in schools and hospitals.”
It is reported that at least 6,360 children in Gaza have also been injured, as well as at least 180 children in the West Bank, and at least 74 children in Israel. More than 200 individuals, including children, remain hostages inside Gaza.
The risk of children dying from injuries has never been higher, with the UN reporting that a third of hospitals across the Gaza Strip are no longer operational due to electricity cuts and a “total siege” by the Government of Israel blocking entry of goods such as fuel and medicine. According to Medecins Sans Frontiers/Doctors without Borders, resulting anaesthesia shortages have meant amputating children without pain relief.
Save the Children is gravely concerned that the unfolding expanded ground operation in Gaza by Israeli forces will unavoidably result in more child casualties, with children’s bodies particularly vulnerable to the explosive weaponry.
Save the Children calls for an immediate ceasefire. We call on all parties to the conflict to take immediate steps to protect the lives of children, and on the international community to support those efforts, as is their obligation.
Meanwhile, one truck carrying 45,000 bottles of water from Save the Children has arrived in Gaza today, as part of the small group of aid trucks which have been approved entry through the Rafah crossing.
Another truck carrying another 45,000 bottles of water is likely to cross in the coming day. These two trucks carrying aid from Save the Children have been waiting to cross into Gaza since October 16.
While every possible opportunity to respond to the urgent needs in Gaza is important, these two trucks – part of only a limited group that are permitted – will in no way meet the colossal scale of needs. According to the UN, around 100 trucks of humanitarian supplies per day are needed to meet the needs of the more than two million residents of Gaza. So far, the total number of trucks that have entered Gaza is below that daily requirement.
The availability of water, food, fuel, and medical supplies is critically low in Gaza. The lack of fuel poses a significant challenge to the distribution of aid, even once additional trucks have crossed the border.
Jason Lee said:
“While every piece of aid reaching families in Gaza matters, the current rate of delivery is nowhere near enough. Even before the current escalation, 80% of Gaza’s population relied on humanitarian aid to meet basic needs. Children and their families desperately need food, water and medical supplies, as well as fuel, shelter, and hygiene items.
“Historically, the vast majority of aid to Gaza has come through the two crossings with Israel, for humanitarian workers and humanitarian supplies – Erez and Kerem Shalom respectively, – which are currently closed. Even if all crossings were open, it is unlikely that the huge severity and scale of children and families’ needs would be met, particularly given the impact the 16-year blockade has had on the environment, infrastructure, services, and basic life prospects for those in the Gaza Strip.
“There must be consistent safe passage for humanitarian aid and personnel, and it must happen now. Time is costing lives.”