Nine of the 10 children who survived last year’s devastating war in the Gaza Strip live in a state of constant fear and more than 70 percent are now worried about another war breaking out. Successive wars and bloodshed in the Palestinian enclave have left children “emotionally and, in some cases, physically shattered,” according to a new assessment by Save the Children, an international non-profit.
“Many children in Gaza have now lived through three wars in the past seven years, the last one notable for its brutality,” Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, said in a statement released Monday. “They have lived through events that would give even the most hardened adult nightmares. The continued blockade and threat of renewed conflict makes it very difficult for children to recover from the trauma they have experienced.”
Last year’s war, which lasted 51 days, led to the deaths of over 2,200 Palestinians. Of these, 551 were children. According to Save the Children, over 3,400 children were injured, of whom 10 percent suffered permanent disability as a result. On the Israeli side of the border, one child was killed and 270 were injured.
“One year on, homes and schools in Gaza have yet to be rebuilt and children still play amid the rubble -- often in places where unexploded ordinance has not yet been removed,” the organization said in the report. “The violence continues. … Children in Gaza continue to be victims of persistent rights violations.”
As a result of the continuing violence and a fear of conflict restarting in the region, seven out of 10 children in Gaza, on average, suffer from regular nightmares and bedwetting. More than 50 percent of the children in some areas do not want to go to school as they are afraid to leave their homes.
“Children have reported feeling trapped and unable to escape Gaza,” Save the Children said in the report. “Life simply can’t ‘go back to normal’ for children in Gaza -- because of the blockade, homes and schools can’t be easily rebuilt, and children feel that war is always close by.”
The Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has been in place since Hamas came to power in 2006, has slowed the flow of reconstruction materials into the territory. Last month, the United Nations warned that at the current pace, it could take up to 30 years to repair the damage caused by last year’s war.