Tue 11-June-2024

Gaza children: Vulnerable targets in Israel’s genocidal war

Saturday 25-May-2024


Since the beginning of the Israeli assault on Gaza, the targets bombed or destroyed have varied, but on a human level, children and women have been specifically targeted, whether in their homes, schools where they sought refuge, or hospitals where they sheltered. This points to the bloodthirsty mentality of Israel, which disregards humanitarian norms, international laws, and treaties.

Children in Gaza have borne the brunt of the casualties and injuries in this ongoing war, which has lasted over seven months. Not a day goes by without the death of innocent children who have no power or culpability, killed by the overwhelming force of powerful weapons that strip them of their right to life.

A repeated scene

Amid the Israeli aggression on Gaza, it has become commonplace to see a grieving mother holding her infant, mourning in a final embrace. The innocent child was killed by an Israeli strike on a “target” known to be primarily inhabited by women and children.

This tragic scene is repeated daily since the start of the genocide waged by the Israeli occupation army in Gaza. Survivors of the bombings constantly ask: What did these children do to deserve such brutal deaths? Why does the world stand by and watch these crimes unfold?

Many stories will be told by history about these martyred children, who lived short lives but whose innocent souls lit the path to freedom for future generations.

A heartbreaking farewell

Rania Abu Anza, a Palestinian woman from Gaza, bid farewell to her twin children, Naeem and Wissam, who were killed alongside their father in an Israeli airstrike on Deir al-Balah in central Gaza.

After 11 years of marriage, Rania went through three rounds of IVF (three rounds of fertilization and embryo implantation) to fulfill her dream of becoming a mother. She finally gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl, who came into the world a week after the war began.

However, the Israeli killing machine did not spare them for long. The Israeli army bombed their family home in Deir al-Balah, killing the five-month-old twins and their father, among 14 family members who were martyred in early March.

Standing amid the rubble of her destroyed home, the grieving mother, 27, said with anguish, “I wished they could spend Ramadan and Eid with me, as every mother does with her children.”

She added, looking at the ruins, “This was our home, and here we were sleeping during the bombing,” expressing her shock that the Israeli army bombed a house full of innocent civilians without warning.

Shocking statistics

The latest updates from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics indicate that the number of child martyrs in Gaza due to the Israeli aggression has reached 15,162 children, accounting for over 40% of the total number of martyrs.

According to the same source, Israeli forces kill about four children every hour in Gaza.

On March 13, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini announced that the number of children killed due to the ongoing war in Gaza exceeds the number of children killed in conflicts worldwide over four years.

Lazzarini referenced UN figures showing that 12,193 children were killed in conflicts worldwide between 2019 and 2022. Reports from Gaza’s Ministry of Health indicate that over 12,300 children have been martyred in Gaza between October and early February.

The deaths of children in Gaza are not only due to bombings and tank shells but also result from starvation caused by the blockade on food and medicine.

Weapon of starvation

In early April, Human Rights Watch confirmed that children in Gaza are dying due to complications related to starvation. The organization called for a suspension of arms transfers to Israel and urged pressure to ensure that Gaza’s residents receive humanitarian aid and essential services.

Omar Shakir, Director of Israel and Palestine Affairs at Human Rights Watch, stated, “We have found that the Israeli government’s use of starvation as a weapon of war is killing children in Gaza. Israel must end this war crime, stop this suffering, and allow unimpeded humanitarian aid access throughout Gaza.”

The rights organization further urged relevant governments to impose sanctions on Israel to compel it to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, in compliance with international law and the recent International Court of Justice’s ruling in the genocide case brought by South Africa.

A report by the Gaza Government Media Office on April 28 indicated that 30 children have died due to famine, malnutrition, and dehydration caused by the blockade. The famine includes a shortage of food and baby formula, as well as the inability of breastfeeding mothers to nourish their infants, and malnutrition due to insufficient or unhealthy food availability as a result of Israel’s blockade.

Legalizing murder

In November 2009, following months after the Israeli war on Gaza in the Battle of Al-Furqan, two extremist rabbis, Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, published a book titled “The King’s Torah,” which permits the killing of non-Jews, especially Palestinians and their children.

The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that the book includes rulings issued by rabbis on killing non-Jews, serving as a guide for those uncertain about when and how to kill non-Jews. The book discusses killing non-Jews based on the necessity of what they call “executing the seven commandments.”

The book states, “Killing applies even when the oppressor does not directly threaten with death but does so indirectly. Even a civilian who assists fighters or encourages them or expresses satisfaction with their actions is considered an oppressor and is permissible to be killed.”

The incitement extends to calling for the killing of children: “They are roadblocks; infants block the road to success with their presence, and thus it is permissible to kill them.”

In May 2009, the American Jewish magazine “Moment” published an interview with Zionist Rabbi Manis Friedman, discussing the best way for Jews in occupied Palestine to deal with their Arab neighbors. Friedman responded bluntly: “The only way to conduct a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites, kill their men, women, and children, and their cattle.”

Incitement peaked when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on Twitter on October 16, 2023: “Israel’s struggle with Hamas is between the children of light and the children of darkness, between humanity and the law of the jungle.” This statement is seen as a public incitement to kill Palestinian children.

In a press conference on October 28, Netanyahu said, “I pray for the safety of our soldiers: May God defeat the enemies who have risen against us! May our enemies be subdued before them.” He quoted Deuteronomy 17:25, “Remember what Amalek did to you.” Amalek is a name Arabs historically used for the Bedouin tribes in the deserts of Syria and Iraq.

Violations of children’s rights

The United Nations issued the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, an international treaty aimed at protecting children. The convention outlines the basic rights of children, which should not be denied, and the responsibilities of governments towards them.

The convention includes numerous articles related to children’s rights, including:
• Article 6: Every child has an inherent right to life, and states must ensure the survival and development of the child to the maximum extent possible.
• Article 24: Every child has the right to the highest attainable standard of health and access to healthcare facilities and services. States must strive to ensure no child is deprived of his/her right to access healthcare services.
• Article 28: Every child has the right to education, and states must take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools.
• Article 38: States are obliged under international humanitarian law to protect civilian populations in armed conflicts and to take all feasible measures to ensure the protection and care of children affected by such conflicts.

However, the Israeli occupation has not adhered to any of the rights of Palestinian children during its brutal war on Gaza, violating all international laws, norms, and treaties protecting children’s rights, according to official and international rights organizations’ statements.

On February 9, Anne Skelton, Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, confirmed that the Israeli occupation is severely violating children’s rights in Gaza at a level rarely seen in modern history. Skelton stated, “Thousands of people, including a large number of children, have been buried under the rubble. Many injured children have lost limbs, parents, and friends,” calling for substantial psychological and social support for children to alleviate the long-term, painful effects of the war.

According to Save the Children, more than 10 children on average lose one or both legs daily in Gaza since the war began.

In February, Jonathan Cricks, Director of Communications for UNICEF in Palestine, announced that at least 17,000 children have been separated from their parents, and all 1.2 million children in Gaza need mental health and psychosocial support, as well as attention and action from the international community.

On May 14, Palestinian Health Minister Majed Abu Ramadan announced that over 80% of hospitals and healthcare centers in Gaza have been rendered out of service due to the ongoing Israeli war on the Strip since October 7. He added that the catastrophic health situation in Gaza has deprived citizens of their right to medical treatment and medication, necessitating urgent international intervention to save the health system in the enclave.

A report by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor on May 15 confirmed that Israel has destroyed 80% of Gaza’s schools, either partially or completely, since the military offensive began on October 7.

Thus, it is clear that Israel has deprived Palestinian children in Gaza of their most fundamental rights outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child: the right to life, the right to medical treatment, the right to education, and the right to protection during wartime.

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