Year Ender 2023: Amid Israel-Gaza war; sufferings of children on both sides remain neglected; future uncertain

DN Bureau

The world discusses the aftermath of war, and the elimination of Hamas as Israel-Gaza conflict enters day 84, however, the children on both sides continue to remain forgotten -those who lived and are seeing the destruction unfold as well as those who succumbed to the war that turned into a massacre overnight. Read further on Dynamite News:

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New Delhi: The world discusses the aftermath of war, and the elimination of Hamas as Israel-Gaza conflict enters day 84, however, the children on both sides continue to remain forgotten -those who lived and are seeing the destruction unfold as well as those who succumbed to the war that turned into a massacre overnight.

The Gaza war began after Hamas launched its attack on Israel on October 7 this year from land, water and sea. The terrorists came, the Israeli forces retaliated, but the ones who bore the brunt of the violence, and persistently do so, remain the people; including men, women, elderly, and most of all, the children.

At least 33 children were killed in the brutal attack on Israel on October 7, which was spearheaded by Hamas. An estimated 40 children were kidnapped by Palestinian armed groups and held as hostages.

The WHO Chief, during a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) session had said that a child is killed every 10 minutes in Gaza.
"Tens of thousands of displaced people sheltering at hospitals. 

Families crammed into overcrowded schools, desperate for food and water. More than 10,800 people have now been killed in Gaza, almost 70 per cent of them women and children, all on average, a child is killed every ten minutes.

In Gaza, 1.5 million people have been displaced and are looking for shelter anywhere they can find it.

But nowhere and no one is safe. Nowhere and no one is safe," the Director General of World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said at the United Nations Security Council in November earlier, pressing on the safety of children and collapsing healthcare across Gaza strip as a result of the war.

As the Israel-Gaza conflict turns deadly with every passing day, the situation of children on Israeli as well as the Palestinian side also become grim.

German media publication, DW reported citing Israeli media reports that the children living in Southern Israel also remain on the suffering end. Some of the parents have also stated that their children, since the war began, have not been able to sleep in their beds due to extreme fear and constant bombings.

Mother of two Sapir Fischer-Turgeman hailing from Ashkelon, a seaside town close to Gaza, according to DW, says that in 2015, she finished her mandatory military duty in the IDF as a communications officer, and she talked about how her kids' behaviour had altered since the fighting started.

She stated, "We noticed one of our kids is much more aggressive and impatient," in spite of her and her partner's best efforts to shield the children from learning about the fights as much as possible.

Some Israeli parents have reported that their kids won't go to sleep in their bedrooms because they're afraid. "It's hard for them to stay at home the whole time, but there is no choice as there are barely any safe areas to protect ourselves from rockets on the streets and near playing grounds in Ashkelon," said DW quoted Fischer-Turgeman as saying.

The tale of Sapir Fischer-Turgeman is not only where this horrid saga of fear, and violence ends. A similar predicament faces tens of thousands of Palestinian parents in Gaza.

More than 4,600 children have reportedly been killed, with nearly 9,000 reported injured, DW cited figures from the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza from November. However, these numbers have not been independently verified.

With nearly 47.3 per cent of the 2.2 million citizens under the age of 18 as per the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Gaza's population is relatively young.

Moreover, the conflict has uprooted 1.5 million people from Gaza so far; out of which, at least 700,000 are children, according to UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund. Children in Gaza are accustomed to hardship and military build-up. Since the Hamas overthrew the Palestinian Authority in 2007, Israel and Egypt have maintained a harsh land and sea blockade of Gaza.

However, despite Gaza being a conflict zone since a long time, it is not only about the people residing there who are constantly being hurt, but it is the children this time who have been the target of the endless violence that has been taking place amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

According to Israeli media reports, the youngest hostage taken by Hamas was a 9-month old baby, Hamas, is notably a militant group that has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the European Union, the United States, Germany, and many other nations. 

The Israeli Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs reports that 21 children were left orphaned as a result of the incident. Of them, sixteen had both parents slaughtered, two were the slain offspring of single moms, and three more had one parent killed and the other either kidnapped or reported "missing."

In the latest development, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) has asked residents in many parts of central Gaza to leave immediately while its operations against Hamas continue, according to CNN. In a message posted in Arabic on X, the IDF urged residents in 15 identified blocks south of Wadi Gaza to move to shelters. The regions include the Al-Bureij refugee camp.

In its message, the IDF said people in the identified blocks "must immediately move to the shelters in Deir al-Balah. A temporary tactical local suspension of military activities will be imposed for humanitarian purposes in the southern neighbourhood of Deir al-Balah from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm for provisions purposes," CNN reported.

The IDF urged people not to move along the central axis, the Salah Al-Din road, due to the fighting in the Khan Younis area of Gaza, according to CNN report. It said, "The IDF will allow the humanitarian movement of civilians through the bypass axis west of Khan Younis."

Meanwhile, Israel Defence Forces (IDF) located and destroyed three terror tunnel shafts belonging to the Hamas terror organisation near the Rantisi Hospital and in the nearby high School on Wednesday this week. The tunnel shafts that the Hamas fighters used are dozens of metres deep and are linked by an underground network that runs beneath the hospital and into Gaza City.

"IDF troops are uncovering Hamas' tunnels inside and around multiple hospitals within Gaza. The Rantisi Hospital is just another terrorist stronghold used to connect and transfer terrorists and weapons throughout Gaza to be used against Israelis," the IDF wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter), after recovering the tunnel.

In recent weeks, IDF soldiers led by the 162nd Division's 401st Brigade, in collaboration with Flotilla 13 and the 'Yahalom' Unit, discovered and searched three active tunnel shafts near Rantisi Hospital. 'Yahalom' soldiers searched the region, as well as, the shafts and tunnels, employing a variety of methods to map the topography of the tunnels and the linkages between the shafts.Notably, Yahalom is a sayeret unit of the Israeli Combat Engineering Corps of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

According to the IDF, this operation revealed that the shafts are connected by a wide underground network passing under the hospital, spanning several kilometres, and leading to strategic points in the heart of Gaza City. "The tunnel in Rantisi is close to a school and leads to another school in the area.The tunnel also served as a command and control centre for conducting combat in the northern Gaza Strip and for carrying out terrorist attacks," the IDF said.

The Israeli forces said that the operational shaft was located in a girls' school in the area was about 20 metres deep and included an elevator and electrical infrastructure. "Following intelligence information directed by Unit 504 of the Intelligence Directorate, another operational shaft was located inside one of the hideout residences used by one of the commanders of Hamas' naval unit in the Gaza Strip," the IDF said.

Junctions and blast doors were placed in the tunnels' topography to prevent IDF soldiers from breaking in and to secure the tunnel system.

The tunnel infrastructure and shafts were demolished in a coordinated operation by soldiers from the 'Yahalom' Unit and engineering soldiers from the 14th Brigade, the IDF added.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has, for a number of times made it clear that Israel would not agree to a ceasefire, drawing parallels to the United States' position after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He had noted that calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas.

"Calls for a ceasefire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terror, to surrender to barbarism. That will not happen. Ladies and gentlemen, the Bible says that there is a time for peace and a time for war. This is a time for war. A war for a common future," Netanyahu had said earlier in a press briefing.

It has been twelve weeks into the war and the populace has been left on their own with little assistance arriving to support the basic amenities. There aren't many vehicles carrying international aid that can pass through the Rafah crossing from Egypt, and most Palestinians are stuck in this small enclave, with least or no aid.

The second tranche of humanitarian aid for the people of Palestine reached Egypt in November. The relief material was handed over to the Egyptian Red Crescent for further transmission to Palestine.

Sharing this on social media X, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had stated, "2nd tranche of 's humanitarian assistance for the people of Palestine arrives in Egypt. Relief material handed over to Egyptian Red Crescent for further transmission to Palestine."

Earlier, India sent 38 tonnes of humanitarian relief for civilians caught up in the ongoing ground offensive by the Israeli forces in the Strip. The aid package comprised fluids and painkillers. The disaster relief material, weighing approximately 32 tonnes, also included tents, sleeping bags, tarpaulins, basic sanitary utilities, and water purification tablets, among other items.

When Hamas launched the rocket attacks on Israel in October, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was one of the first leaders to condemn the terrorist attack.

Expressing solidarity with Israel in the wake of the deadly rocket strikes by Hamas, PM Modi had said that the thoughts of people were with the innocent victims and their families. "Deeply shocked by the news of terrorist attacks in Israel. Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour," PM Modi had posted on X.

The conflict in Gaza escalated after the October 7 attack by Hamas, where about 2,500 terrorists breached the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip, leading to casualties and the seizure of hostages. Israel has characterised its Gaza offensive as targeting Hamas' infrastructure with the goal of eliminating the entire terror group while making efforts to minimize civilian casualties, The Times of Israel reported.

Reflecting on past interactions with families of fallen IDF (Israel Defence Forces) soldiers, Netanyahu on Tuesday (December 26) conveyed Israel's determination, stating, "Our sons did not die in vain. We must not stop the war until we secure complete victory over those who wish us dead." Following this, family members in the Knesset gallery reiterated their calls, chanting, "Everyone - now! Everyone - now!"

Netanyahu emphasised the government's relentless efforts, asserting, "We will shake every tree and turn every stone to bring back all the kidnapped. Each one of them is precious. Since the beginning of the war, I have met with the families of the abductees, and I hear your personal stories. What is said here unites the people and unites us in a holy mission."

There are 129 hostages still in Gaza, according to the prime minister's office. Of those, 22 are known to be dead, and their bodies remain in Gaza along with the 107 living hostages.

A catastrophic humanitarian disaster unfolds as a deadly conflict between Israel and Hamas continues. More than 1,200 casualties have been reported in Israel, and since Hamas launched unprecedented strikes on Israel on October 7, more than 20,000 people are said to have lost their lives in Gaza, according to the Ministry of Health under Hamas control.

An estimated one million people have been internally displaced in Gaza, an area noted for having a dense population, as a result of the subsequent bombings, which have put a pressure on the region's hospitals. (ANI)

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