UNICEF: Israel’s war on Gaza and its devastating impacts on children

Photo:  A father carries his children while trying to flee from air strikes in the city of Rafah. UNICEF/Eyad El Baba, Nov 2023.

In a recent interview on RN Breakfast, James Elder, UNICEF’s global spokesperson, described the devastating impact that Israel’s war on Gaza is having on children.

He reported how a UNICEF convoy carrying nutritional and medical supplies for 10,000 children in northern Gaza was prevented from delivering this humanitarian aid by Israeli authorities. 

He also stressed that apart from providing medical supplies, it is also necessary to get Gaza’s hospitals functioning again: “There’s been a systematic devastation of them”, he said. “When I was in a hospital, there were children on the floor. That’s not just because of the ferocity of attacks. It’s because the vast majority of hospitals are inoperable.”

During this ill-fated mission, he witnessed the murder by Israeli troops of two Palestinian fishermen who were fishing with nets in the Gaza Sea. Despite requesting permission, Israeli authorities blocked UNICEF staff from immediately investigating and offering assistance where possible.

The extent of all this suffering, death and destruction inflicted by Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza would not be possible without the diplomatic and military support provided by the US government. The double standards and hypocrisy associated with this complicity has further isolated the US on the global stage.

Allies such as Australia that have failed to both (a) unequivocally condemn Israeli’s war crimes and violations of humanitarian law and (b) impose sanctions to help increase pressure on the Netanyahu government to bring about a permanent ceasefire, have also had their international reputation damaged.

When asked what he thought had changed since his earlier trips to the occupied territory, James Elder nominated the evident psychological trauma being suffered by civilians, especially by the young. He noted that during his latest trip a disconcerting number of young people had said words to the effect: “I want this over, I want a missile to hit me tonight, I’m done.”

“(A)t no point does it make any sense whatsoever”, he argued, “that the killing of so many children and the destruction of Gaza, can possibly bring peace to this region.”

He ended the interview by emphasising that it is an immediate and permanent ceasefire that the children In Gaza desperately need at this time.

Last Sunday, Muslims around the world marked the holiday of Eid al-Adha. In Gaza however, amongst the rubble and the ruin, the Eid was a day of misery for many.

A recording of the interview with James Elder can be accessed here.

A transcript of the interview can been read here.

More information
UNICEF, ‘Almost 3,000 malnourished children at risk of “dying before their families’ eyes” as Rafah offensive disconnects them from treatment’, June 11, 2024.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *