Israel’s killing of Palestinian children must end | Conflict between Israel and Palestine
In a speech delivered on November 6, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said that “Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children”. While his comments immediately attracted the attention of the media, they somehow still disregarded the truth for Palestinian children.
In Gaza, Israeli forces are killing Palestinian children at an unprecedented rate. Over the past 40 days, Israeli forces have murdered more than 5,000 children in Gaza – with an additional 1,800 children missing under the rubble of destroyed buildings, most of them presumed dead . That’s more than 6,800 Palestinian children killed over a period of 40 days. That means that more than 170 children are killed every day.
In the West Bank, Israeli forces have killed 54 Palestinian children since October 7, according to documents collected by Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP). This includes 38 Palestinian children killed in October alone, the most Palestinian children killed in a single month since Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank began in 1967 .
As in previous Israeli military attacks on Gaza, the Israeli attacks that the DCIP has investigated have been grossly indiscriminate and disproportionate. The Israeli military has targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure in densely populated civilian areas with spatially-explosive weapons. In other words, every bomb the Israeli army drops on Gaza could be a war crime.
Make no mistake, Guterres was sounding the alarm because he knows that Palestinian children are living and dying in unique times. Israeli forces killed more children in the first month of the war than state and non-state actors in other armed conflicts over the past two years combined, according to the UN chief’s own annual reports.
Almost 50 percent of the 2.3 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip are children. This surprisingly young population has experienced 16 years of Israeli siege, which is a collective punishment. Palestinian children have faced numerous Israeli military offensives where direct, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure and systemic repression have been the norm.
Guterres knows the death toll is expected to rise sharply as Israeli authorities cut off Palestinians in Gaza from food, water, electricity, medical supplies, and fuel, trapping a civilian population in to what he described as a “nightmare” that is “a human crisis.”
Among the population of Gaza there are about 50,000 pregnant people. This means that an average of 160 deliveries take place each day.
Pregnant people have difficulty accessing essential health services because the health care system has collapsed. People in the post-natal period and babies in neonatal units are at great risk due to dangerous fuel shortages as the Israeli authorities have restricted access to much-needed fuel to operate generators operate life saving equipment.
Survivors of Israeli bombings face growing food insecurity and a lack of clean water, which puts pregnant women and children at particular risk of disease, malnutrition and health problems.
The British humanitarian organization Oxfam has stated that, because the Israeli authorities deny humanitarian access completely, hunger is being used as a tool of war against civilians in Gaza. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has noted that conditions are inhumane and continue to deteriorate as days pass for more than 717,000 people who are displaced from sheltered in 149 UNRWA facilities.
Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have repeatedly rejected calls and pressure for a ceasefire in Gaza. Instead, Israeli forces have intensified indiscriminate and direct attacks against residential buildings and civilian infrastructure including hospitals, schools, bakeries and solar panels.
As Israeli officials seem unconvinced in their quest to destabilize Gaza and create conditions that destroy Palestinian life, world leaders show, day after day, that they lack the courage to stop to put on the bombing and instead they are actively supporting the Israeli attack.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has recently approved a $320m deal with Israel to buy US precision bombs and has allowed thousands of assault rifles to be sold to Israeli authorities despite concerns that they could landing in the hands of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank. This is in addition to the $14bn emergency funding for Israel requested from the US Congress.
These arms sales and funding make Washington even more complicit in the disasters that the Israeli army seems to be doing in Gaza.
For decades, the international community has supported and justified Israel’s war crimes and denial of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, prioritizing the security of the Israeli people at the expense of Palestinian lives. Palestinian children are affected by that problem and the failure of international law, protection mechanisms and accountability.
It is paralyzing to think that around 9 to 10 classrooms of students are wiped from the Earth every day by the Israeli army’s intense bombardment of residential buildings and civilian infrastructure in Gaza.
The Biden administration’s support for Israel’s actions and the genocidal green light it has given must be opposed. World leaders must heed the UN chief’s call for an immediate ceasefire and help stop the killing of Palestinian children.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.