Thousands of children remain out of school for the third day in Gaza and Southern Israel, as the escalation continued, leading to the death of eight Palestinian children and the injury of 51. Civilians are again paying the price for this wave of violence between armed groups in Gaza and the Israeli army, warned Save the Children today.
Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, and rockets fired into Israel three days ago, have resulted in the death of at least 34 Palestinians, including eight children, some of them even from the same family, and three women. A further 111 Palestinians including 46 children and 20 women have been wounded, while 48 Israelis including one child have been wounded.
“Once more, children are paying a grave price for a conflict they have no control over. Eight children have already lost their lives, and this number could increase if all parties to this conflict do not abide by a ceasefire immediately. While children should be getting ready in the morning to go to school, they find themselves under lockdown at home. More than 660,000 Palestinian children are out of school for the third day in a row, and are concerned about the impact on their school year,” said Yousra Semmache, Save the Children Middle East Humanitarian Advocacy Manager.
Save the Children warns that the mental health and psychological well-being of hundreds of thousands of children is at risk, as they are experience ongoing panic and fear.
Taleen, a 10-year-old girl in Gaza, said: “I get nervous at night and can’t sleep. I am afraid, and feel it in my heart. At night when there are explosions, my mum calls us to huddle next to the wall. She tells us not to be afraid even when a bomb falls nearby. I get a stomachache when there are so many attacks, I keep walking around, and cannot sit. I keep asking my dad when will the bombs stop. I am upset because I missed school. I am a good student and I like my teachers.”
At least 15 schools have been damaged in Gaza by airstrikes in the last three days, while all the educational establishments remained closed on Thursday. Schools in Southern Israel have also shut down on Thursday, for fear of rockets attacks.
Ibrahim Abu Sbeih, Save the Children Gaza Field Office Manager, said: “I can’t express how scared our children were during this escalation. My 6-year-old girl felt scared and cried when hearing bomb blasts. “This is not thunder nor fireworks. These are big rockets, right?” I did not have an answer to this heavy question but the truth. Though it is not the first conflict we experienced, but every time you get overwhelmed with worry and fear of losing your beloved ones.”
Since Tuesday, Save the Children programmes in Gaza have been suspended, impacting service delivery to approximately 10,000 children. Planned psychological support sessions to meet the pre-existing mental health needs of more than 300 children had to be put on hold. Planned distribution of learning materials and clothing to 200 students in need have also been put on hold. All of Save the Children’s programmes across Gaza have been affected including work to ensure water tanks and other supplies are available to meet the needs created by the ongoing water crisis in Gaza.
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