‘Expanded ground operation’ in Gaza puts even more children’s lives on the line – Save the Children
A mattress and clothes in the rubble of a destroyed building in Gaza. [Bissan Owda/ Save the Children]
RAMALLAH, 27 October 2023 – Children are at heightened risk of loss of life, physical harm, severe emotional distress, and protracted displacement following the announced “expanded ground operations” by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, said Save the Children.
Children will bear the brunt of the “intensification of attacks” in Gaza, with more deaths, injuries and distress likely, said the aid agency, calling for an immediate ceasefire.
The announcement came amid reports of increased airstrikes, with internet and mobile phone services completely cut-off. Save the Children has lost contact with its team in Gaza.
While the scale and nature of this operation remain unclear, in the event of a full ground incursion, more than one million children’s lives – nearly half of the 2.3 million population of Gaza – will be on the line. This includes an unknown number of child hostages taken from Israel into the Gaza Strip.
Earlier today, Shadi*, a Save the Children team member in Gaza, sent a message saying:
"I’m trying to reach out to people, but there is no connection at all… We could all die, we could survive, we could survive, we could…. pray for us.”
Save the Children is horrified by the rapidly escalating violence, and the profound humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza.
Jason Lee, Save the Children’s Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territory, said:
"This is pure horror for all children and their parents. Across the Gaza Strip, more than one million children are trapped in the middle of an active conflict zone with no safe place to go and no route to safety. With communications down, children are cut-off from the world, more isolated than ever before. They are unable to speak to loved ones, or even to call an ambulance.
“The Gaza Strip is a small, densely populated urban environment, with no way out. Any military ground operation inside Gaza puts children in immediate danger and has devastating impacts on access to healthcare, water, shelter and food.
“Civilians and infrastructure essential for their lives, such as hospitals and schools must be spared from violence. The conflict has already killed more than 3,000* children in under three weeks. Despite Save the Children and thousands of other voices calling for an urgent ceasefire, we are seeing an increase in military operations. We call on all parties to the conflict to take immediate steps to protect the lives of children, and on the international community to support those efforts, as is their obligation.”
*Figure from the Ministry of Health in Gaza.