More than 90 per cent of Gaza’s children suffer from trauma more than a month after Hamas and Israel exchanged bombs and rockets in an 11-day eruption of violence in May, according to the Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.
In its report, One War Older, Euro-Med Monitor documented the situation of children and women, the two most vulnerable groups in the Israeli besieged and blockaded narrow coastal strip. Children under 15 make up more than half Gaza’s population and 49 per cent are girls, the report says.
Euro-Med Monitor, which was founded in 2011, said that during the recent conflict Israel carried out “disproportionate attacks against densely populated residential neighbourhoods” where 75 per cent of the inhabitants were children and women.
Forty of the 248 Palestinians killed in Gaza were women and 66 were children, the report said. At least 470 children and 310 women were wounded, some of whom would have lasting disabilities, it added.
Among the 12 killed in Israel, one was a child and one a woman, Euro-Med Monitor stated. Israel’s official figure of those killed is 13, including three Asian workers, and 200 wounded.
The Euro-Med Monitor report is based on five weeks of field research by the organisation’s team, which “documented hundreds of cases of direct targeting of civilian homes”. The homes of 5,400 children were destroyed or severely damaged, while 72,000 children sought refuge in UN schools or with relatives. More than 4,000 remain displaced.
Some 400,000 children had difficulties accessing water due to damage inflicted by bombing of wells, groundwater sources, desalination plants and sewage treatment plants, the report said.
Euro-Med cited two examples of acute loss. Mutassin Khalifa (12) “saw the body of his brother Yahia, 15 years old, in pieces on the ground, after he was killed by an Israeli air strike” on May 13th. His mother Shaima said that Mutassin initially “lost consciousness” and “since that day he has been behaving strangely; suddenly screaming in anger, laughing, or crying all day for no reason. When he sleeps, he keeps shouting his brother’s name throughout the night”.
Mohammed al-Hadidi and his five-month old son Omar survived an Israeli bombing: “I cannot imagine what the world will look like for my child Omar when he grows up, knowing that he lost his mother and all his siblings in one night. How will a child who has lost all sources of safety in his life live?”
Euro-Med said that 91 per cent of children in Gaza suffered from some form of conflict-related trauma. Even before Israel’s bombing campaign, 33 per cent of Gaza’s children “needed support as a result of traumas caused by previous attacks”.
Its findings were issued shortly after the UN Security Council marked the 25th anniversary of the adoption on its agenda of protection of children in armed conflict.
An Israeli spokesman contacted by The Irish Times did not comment on the Euro-Med Monitor report.