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Palestinian Children: Victims of Hamas

palestinian children in gaza
The turmoil between Israel and Gaza is ramping up, as violence between the two nations escalates hourly. Rockets, bombs and aerial assaults punctuate the region more and more as hostilities increase, with no signs of de-escalation or avail.

The circumstances are claiming the health and lives of many, as more and more deadly weapons are detonated not just daily, but hourly. Both sides of the conflict are seeing gross casualties, injuries, displacement, and devastating psychological distress.

Gaza is one of the most densely populated regions in the world, with 1.7 million people inhabiting 139 square miles. The Israeli military has dropped leaflets over certain areas of the Gaza Strip, warning civilians to flee or find shelter because of a coming air strike. Though the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claim they do not want to hurt civilians, they released a statement saying that the civilians, “…must know that remaining in close proximity to Hamas terrorists and infrastructures is extremely unsafe.” Nevertheless, at  least 72 Palestinians were killed last month, including Palestinian children.

UNICEF describes the deadly situation and its effects on children in the area, reporting that 19 Palestinian children have been killed as a result of airstrikes in Gaza over the past three days. Countless other children have been injured by rocket attacks.

On Thursday, July 10, an air strike killed five children in Palestine.

Physical harm is not the only consequence of the violence. Mental distress and upset are also extremely threatening and damaging. There has been focus on Palestinian children in particular, especially by Save the Children, a prominent children’s charity based in Washington, D.C.

Osama Damo, a communications manager for Save the Children, says that Palestinian children are at risk of psychological distress and disorders at night, because, “Military operations often take place during the night.”

Among children, the psychological distresses resulting from the regional climate and circumstances include PTSD, behavioral issues, feelings of helplessness and fear, trauma and sleeping disorders.

Some child welfare organizations are acting throughout the region to provide protection for children during dangerous raids.

Although it is the holy month of Ramadan, Gaza City is deserted. Thousands of inhabitants have fled or remain hidden inside buildings, rendering the usually bustling city a ghost town. It is safer to remain inside than it is to risk injury outside.

“We feel so scared,” says 10-year-old Karmen. “It’s Ramadan now, and we want to enjoy the holiday.”

Though this deeply rooted conflict is claiming the lives of many, it is important to consider the innocent children on both sides.

– Arielle Swett

Sources: UNICEF, Aljazeera America 1, Aljazeera America 2, NPR, BBC
Photo: The Telegraph