Thousands of Palestinians are seeking refuge in hospitals.
More children have been killed in Gaza over the past three weeks than the annual number of children killed in conflicts worldwide since 2019, non-governmental organisation Save the Children said.
Since October 7, 3,324 children have been massacred by Israel in Gaza, while an additional 36 have also been killed in the West Bank, the NGO reported on Sunday, citing Palestinian health authorities.
Comparing these numbers to global statistics, Save the Children highlighted that in 2022, 2,985 children were killed in conflicts across 24 countries, with 2,515 child deaths recorded in 2021 across 22 countries. In 2020, the toll stood at 2,674 children lost in conflict.
“One child’s death is one too many, but these are grave violations of epic proportions,” said Jason Lee, Save the Children’s country director for the occupied Palestinian territory.
“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.”
The horrific revelation comes against the backdrop of Israel’s continued operations in Gaza that have included relentless aerial bombardments of residential areas.
Around 1,000 children have been reported missing and may be trapped beneath the rubble of destroyed buildings. Children constitute more than 40% of at least 8,000 confirmed fatalities in Gaza, with thousands more injured.
Devastating conditions on the ground have only been made worse due to Israel’s total siege on the Gaza Strip, which has cut off food, electricity, fuel, and water supplies, and has only allowed small amounts of aid to trickle in via the Rafah crossing since 21 October.
The lack of electricity and fuel for generators has forced hospitals to reduce their operations, prompting the health ministry to declare Gaza’s health system in a state of “complete collapse,” further endangering the lives of children, including babies requiring energy-intensive neonatal care.
Gaza, home to more than 2.3 million Palestinians, has been bombarded with Israeli airstrikes for more than three weeks, crippling an already dire infrastructure and pushing residents to desperation. According to reports, some were forced to break into UN warehouses to take basic necessities in a desperate bid to feed their children.
On Sunday, the Israeli occupation forces escalated the relentless attacks near Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City, ordering its “immediate” evacuation, a move condemned by the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), which received “serious threats” from Israeli forces.
Despite no military and Hamas presence, the hospital remains under attack, with 12,000 displaced Palestinians, mostly children and women, seeking refuge in the hospital.
“There’s no police presence in the hospital, no military presence, nothing at all. Just thousands of Palestinians here, many of whom have lost their homes. Thousands of others are seeking shelter in UNRWA schools,” director of the hospital told Al Jazeera.
“Israel is targeting every single building around al-Quds Hospital. Why is that? Nobody knows.”
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of the impracticality of such a task
“We reiterate – it’s impossible to evacuate hospitals full of patients without endangering their lives,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director WHO, said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
On October 17, Israel attacked the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza and killed more than 500 people, turning a refuge for displaced Palestinians into a scene of horror.
The Christian run facility was being used at the time as a refuge for hundreds of Palestinians seeking shelter and urgent medical treatment.