Over 420 Palestinian children are killed every day in Israeli war on Gaza, says UNICEF chief

Israel has intensified its bombings inside the besieged Palestinian territory, repeatedly targeting shelters for the displaced and hospitals which are crowded due to the large number of people injured

October 31, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
UNSC discusses war in Gaza
(Photo: UN)

Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), stated that Israel is carrying out “collective punishment” against Palestinians across the occupied territories and asked the world to ensure that women and children do not become “collateral damage.” 

Lazzarini was speaking at an emergency session of the UN Security Council on Monday, October 30, called by the UAE and China to yet again push for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. 

Addressing the session, Catherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF, said that over 3,400 children had been killed and over 6,300 injured. “This means that more than 420 Palestinian children are being killed or injured in Gaza each day—a number which should shake each of us to our core,” she added.

Israeli forces have been indiscriminately bombing the Gaza strip for the last 25 days. Its forces also launched a ground offensive on Saturday. 

The number of total Palestinians killed so far in the Israeli bombings in Gaza crossed 8,300 on Tuesday morning, with over 20,000 Palestinians injured. According to reports, Israel once again used banned white phosphorus on civilians in Gaza on Monday.  

According to Lazzarini, more than 70% of all those killed are either children or women. He claimed that an “unprecedented human tragedy is unfolding under our watch” in Gaza which is “unbearable.”

He blamed Israel for forcing millions of Palestinians out of their homes which led to overcrowding in UNRWA shelters. Lazzarini claimed that over 67,0000 Palestinians are forcibly displaced and are now living in schools which have been converted into shelters. 

More than half of the population of Gaza, over 1.4 million Palestinians, have been forced out of their homes due to the Israeli offensive since October 7. More and more Palestinians are under threat of losing their homes as Israel continues to target civilian residential areas. 

Lazzarini claimed that over 65 staffers with the UNRWA have been killed in Israeli strikes inside the Gaza strip since October 7. 

Several relief and rescue staff working with other humanitarian missions in the war-affected region have also been killed in the Israeli bombings which have targeted hospitals, schools, aid distribution centers, and even ambulances.   

Israel has also blockaded the supply of food, fuel and medicines into the besieged Palestinian territories since October 9, which has intensified the humanitarian situation there as hundreds of thousands of people are being forced to live without adequate medicines and food. Due to lack of fuel, all essential services such as water supply, cleaning and transportation are blocked, leading to a very dangerous situation. 

“No place is safe in Gaza”  

The handful of aid allowed through the Rafah border is not enough for the over 2 million Palestinians trapped in Gaza. Basic necessities such as water, medicine, food and fuel are running out, adding to the panic among the people, Lazzarini said during his presentation to the UN Security Council. 

He claimed that no place is safe from Israeli bombings in the small Palestinian enclave. 

“My UNRWA colleagues are the only glimmer of hope for the entire Gaza strip, a ray of light as humanity sinks into its darkest hour,” Lazzarini stated.  

Lazzarini added that the condition in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem is also getting worse everyday. He claimed that Palestinians fatalities in those territories are already highest since 2005, when the UN started recording them. 

Over 115 Palestinians including 33 children have been killed by the occupation forces in these territories since October 7, Lazzarini said. 

According to the latest figures provided by the Palestinian ministry of health, the total number of Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem crossed 124 on Tuesday with the Israeli forces shooting of a 70-year-old man in Tubas. 

He claimed that the restrictions imposed on the movement of Palestinians and aid workers in the occupied Palestinian territories are impacting basic services such as education and health care.   

UNICEF head Russell also noted that Gaza has reported 34 attacks on health facilities, including 21 hospitals, due to which 12 of them can no longer function. She underlined that the Israeli bombings have destroyed 221 schools and over 177,000 housing units so far. 

She called for an immediate ceasefire, saying that we need to “put their [children] safety and security at the forefront of our efforts.”

Chinese ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun pointed out that Israel must implement the UN General Assembly resolution passed by over 120 countries on Friday demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. 

Jun claimed that Israel has been holding around 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza under a blockade for over 16 years and asked it to fulfill its responsibilities as the occupying power. Jung warned that if the current war continues, it can spiral out of control and a greater catastrophe would be inevitable.  

Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzya also blamed Israel, saying that “despite unambiguous reaction around the world” Israel has begun its plan to clear the Palestinian enclave by launching ground offensive. He noted that because of the US position to shield Israel at any cost, “the council has been paralyzed.” 

Other members of the UN Security Council and the Israeli ambassador also addressed the emergency meeting. Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour claimed that “Gaza is now hell on earth” and underlined that “saving humanity from hell today means the UN to save Palestinians in Gaza.”