Child Casualties in Israel’s Assault on Gaza 2008/09
Gaza’s population has had it very hard by most accounts. Most of Gaza’s residents are not natives of Gaza, but were expelled and are refugees from the south of Israel. After a physical occupation by Israel for decades, they have now had their economy crippled, as well as humanitarian crises created by a cruel and illegal siege by Israel. As though this were not enough, they were then invaded and near carpet-bombed over Christmas and New Year of 2008 / 09, with over 1500 deaths and countless injuries and traumas caused.
This blog post was written just after this bombardment, in March of 2009.
At Hope and Play, we abhor the denial of human rights and especially acts of physical or psychological violence to children of all national, ethnic or religious origin. Our charity focuses its efforts on children in two areas, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Bangladesh. In one of those areas, Palestine, there is a humanitarian crisis caused by fighting earlier this year. The Israeli bombardment of Gaza which ramped up significantly in December 2008 and January 2009 comes after nearly 2 years of blockade by the Israeli and Egyptian governments. The blockade itself follows decades of occupation. Children form a very high percentage of the population of Gaza, and as a result they are suffering disproportionately.
Through the following media summaries and links, we highlight some of the effects that this sequence of events has had on children in Gaza. The primary focus is on the exacerbated humanitarian crisis caused by this latest fighting. This is not an exhaustive chronicle of this invasion, but rather a selection of articles which articulate the damage that this has done to Gaza’s children. We try not to pass judgement ourselves, but the facts speak for themselves. Several consistent themes emerge, including:
- child deaths, with over 400 to date (210 of them are named here);
- children traumatised because of the incessant bombardment and because of the horrific sights they are subjected to in terms of death, mutilation and dismemberment;
- child injuries, including as a direct or indirect result of bombardment and of the Israeli army’s use of phosphorous;
- displacement, as homes are destroyed;
- deaths of relatives, making many children orphans;
- unnecessary deaths due to lack of medication for sick children;
- destruction of the education infrastructure, including schools, colleges, universities and the ministry of education;
- creation of a sense of hopelessness as children see that their parents are unable to defend them, and that wherever and whatever they do, there is no escape from Israeli bombardment;
- increased infant mortality as mothers are unable to get to hospitals for delivery.
If we are to concern ourselves with the betterment of those Palestinian children’s lives, we need to both improve their current situations, and work to prevent the events that give rise to these situations in the first place. Our charity in 2009 is focussing on Gaza’s children, primarily on education and play. The following charities have staff and facilities in place in Gaza today and are taking donations for health and humanitarian issues:
- Medical Aid for Palestinians.
- United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – they had a very evocative plea from a mother in Gaza, who says in a very matter-of-fact way that her wish is “to die together as one family so no one of us has to live through the bitterness of losing the other”.
- Save the Children.
Following are media reports of this most destructive and deadly invasion on Gaza. Note that some of the links may be taken down by the media organisations as they age.[linkview cat_name=”2008 and 2009 Invasion of Gaza”]