‘The Opposite of Hope’ – UNICEF Spokesman Says War in Gaza Is a War on Children

June 16, 2024 by https://www.palestinechronicle.com/

The majority of Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza are women and children. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) spokesman James Elder stated that the killing and destruction carried out by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip is “a war on children”.

Elder, currently in Gaza, expressed deep concern about the loss of hope among the Strip’s residents, particularly the youth. 

“It’s my third trip after being here in November and March. Now, I’ve seen the opposite of hope. I’ve seen hope extinguished,” he said in a statement on Saturday.

“There are a mix of people. There are those who will say to me that all they have left is hope after their home was destroyed, husband and children killed and they can no longer feed regularly their other children and they lost their job,”, Elder continued.

The UN agency’s spokesman urged the international community to take action to end this human tragedy. 

He recounted painful stories of children who have lost their families and homes, and who are suffering from malnutrition and psychological trauma, stressing the urgent need for a ceasefire to save children’s lives and provide them with health care and education.

In an interview published on the UN website, Elder said, “There is certainly nothing normal about children and their families living in a constant state of fear.”

Elder highlighted that only a few hospitals remain operational out of the 36 that were functioning in Gaza before the beginning of the Israeli aggression. 

Describing his recent visit to Al-Aqsa Hospital, he said: “We are now at a handful that are partially functioning from a previous total of 36 hospitals and healthcare centres in Gaza. Al-Aqsa Hospital (in central Gaza) took the brunt of those people after the (military) operation on Saturday. It was already overflowing because they’re in a state of war”.

“I visited on Tuesday, when there were scores of people with brutal wounds of war on the floors, mattresses, anywhere they could find. They needed attention. There were children with blast injuries, with burns, these awful injuries,” he added.

“As a doctor said to me, there are no hospitals in the world that could manage what we’re doing.” 

Elder expressed grave concerns about the long-term consequences of the destruction of educational institutions in Gaza. 

“The world should be terrified of the long-term consequences. Because we know that the longer a war goes on, the more damage it does psychologically to children.”

Elder also praised the “spirit” of the Palestinian people.

“At the same time, there is the immense spirit of people here, of the Palestinians of Gaza. Nassar Hospital, which was the second biggest hospital was gutted inside after Khan Younis had been devastated, and it’s been restored and is partially functioning,” he said, adding: 

“That’s just on the back of people’s resolve, strength and determination.”

Ongoing Genocide

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, 37,337 Palestinians have been killed, and 85,299 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 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)