The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said via press statement, that the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip and Israel threatens devastating harm for children on all sides, urging restraint to protect all children.According to the statement: ‘Palestinian children have been reported killed in airstrikes on Gaza and many more injured. The coastal enclave is under closure, making it difficult for civilians to flee. In Israel, rocket attacks from Gaza threaten the lives of Israeli children as well.
‘Both airstrikes and rocket attacks are putting children at risk, leaving them exposed to physical harm and mental distress,’ said the organization, adding: ‘many already experienced violence and destruction during previous escalations.’
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‘UNICEF reiterates the UN Secretary-General’s call on parties to exercise maximum restraint, and reminds them of their legal and moral obligation to protect children from harm,’ the statement concluded, according to WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency.
Children are indeed bearing the brunt of the worsening violence in the region, WAFA further reports, with over 30 killed in Gaza, in recent days, and hundreds more injured, according to UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, who issued a press statement Sunday.
‘No child should have to suffer the terrifying impact of such violence,’ he said.
‘The violence is taking a shocking toll on children both physically and psychologically, with alarming consequences for future chances of peace, stability and understanding. Too often children who witness such violence, and come to view it as ‘normal’, are likely to repeat it themselves in later life,’ the statement further read.
According to WAFA, on-ground UNICEF staff members have spoken with families who describe the deep emotional impact that the current violence is having on children – children who are not sleeping or who are having nightmares, children who have stopped eating, and children who are exhibiting harrowing signs of mental distress.
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Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.