25 Oct 2023

Child deaths and injuries in Gaza 'shockingly high' - Save the Children

From Checkpoint, 5:42 pm on 25 October 2023

An international charity says a child is being killed every 13 minutes in Gaza - and is adding to international calls for an immediate ceasefire. 

Reports from Gaza say 2300 children have been killed during Israel's counter attacks. Almost 5400 more children have been injured and 800 are believed to be missing under rubble. 

These latest figures, reported by Save the Children, come from the Hamas-run Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza and media reports, and it has been impossible to independently verify them.

Save the Children director for the Palestinian territory Jason Lee told Checkpoint the children were facing a "human catastrophe".

Lee said that the Gaza Strip was one of the most densely populated places on Earth, with nearly 2.3 million inhabitants - half of whom were children.

"These children are facing a human catastrophe - 1.4 million people have been displaced (and) ... have fled their homes."

They were trying to find shelter in schools, private homes and UN camps that were not equipped for that volume of people, he said.

"Some of them up have to 23,000 people in them... with (hardly any) bathrooms, no water, no wash facilities. The situation is dire - there's no healthcare for them."

Those hospitals that were still open were running out of medical supplies, he said.

Several children and women sustained injuries due to an Israeli airstrike that targeted a residential house in the Al-Amal neighborhood, located to the west of Khan Yunis city. A Red Crescent doctor Hilal Ahmar is seen trying to help an injured girl in the hospital on 22 October, 2023. (Photo by Saher Alghorra / Middle East Images / Middle East Images via AFP)

A Red Crescent doctor tries to help an injured girl following an Israeli air strike on the Al-Amal neighbourhood, to the west of Khan Yunis. Photo: Saher Alghorra / Middle East Images / AFP

"They're being forced to do surgeries without any anaesthetic, with no electricity, and surgeons are forced to use their phones as flashlights."

There were up to 130 babies being intubated on the neonatal intensive care ward, but their lives were at risk with no electricity to keep essential equipment going.

"I cannot imagine the choices being faced by any nurse, any doctor as to which patient to treat because there are no supplies, no space, no electricity and no water," Lee said. 

"A lot of them have fled to the south. I cannot imagine a parent having to move their children to keep them alive, while there are air strikes happening."

With very little water, there was a real danger of the rapid spread of gastrointestinal and communicable diseases, he said. 

"We know that young kids are more vulnerable and susceptible to diarrhoea. This is on the rise... when you have situations where there is overcrowding in shelters, not enough water, no personal hygiene, it is going to spread. The sewage system is not working; raw sewage is pumping into the Mediterranean and overflowing into the streets."

The death toll will increase drastically unless life-saving equipment and fuel were delivered as part of aid convoys, he said.

"One child is now being killed every 13 minutes. Kids do not have time to wait."

Save the Children said an immediate ceasefire was "critical". 

"This is the only way to keep children safe. There is constant shelling and air strikes - even in the south where people were told to evacuate to. This is why you have a huge number of children being killed and injured... there is no safe place in the south. There is nowhere for them to run."