Children Of War: Three Wars Before Palestinian Kids' 6th Birthdays

by
Fatimah Mazhar
What will become of these young minds after watching so much death and destruction?

The conflict between Israel and Hamas militants is affecting an entire generation, not just a population.

As the death toll in the Gaza Strip rises to 550, reports suggest that the worst casualties of this onslaught are children.

Of those killed, at least 400 were reported to be civilians that included around 69 women and 130 children.

International charity organization Save The Children stated that “one out of every five people” killed in Gaza has been a child since the violence started on July 8, adding the number of children dying has risen by more than 40 percent since the ground operation into Gaza began on July 17.

The numbers are expected to rise until a long-lasting agreement is reached.

Of all the images coming out of the war-stricken zone in the past month, the most appalling have been victims as young as 3 – or maybe even younger.

Perhaps what became one of the worst and much-reported cases was that of four Palestinian children who were killed last week while playing football on a beach in the latest Israeli bombardment of the Gaza strip.

The four victims were younger than 18 and belonged to the same family. They were killed when a shell fired by an Israeli naval boat hit a beach.

Another heart-rending image from Gaza that was widely reported and shared online was that of a little Palestinian boy who clutched at the shirt of a medic at a hospital.

It was later revealed that he was badly bruised and had a large piece of shrapnel in his neck. The child was pictured when he was screaming for his father as the paramedic staff carried him straight from the emergency unit to intensive care.

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Another three children belonging to the same family were killed by an Israeli air strike after the end of a five-hour humanitarian ceasefire.

While Israel maintains that Hamas is using children as human shields and that civilian deaths are a part of the inevitable collateral damage, Palestinian rights advocates suggest otherwise.

"So far, more children have been killed by Israeli fire than Palestinian militants," said a statement from the groups, including War Child and Defense for Children International.

Apart from deaths and the danger of being used as human shields by terrorists, these children are also being traumatized by the war – which for many of them has broke out for the third time in over a period of five years.

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The Associated Press reported on the children of the Attar clan who have lived through all the three wars. The story gave a heart-wrenching account of the psychological trauma the young boys and girls of that family were going through.

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"For the majority of the children (in Gaza), it is the third time around," stated Bruce Grant, the chief of child protection for the Palestinian territories in the United Nation's children's agency, UNICEF.

"It reduces their ability to be resilient and to bounce back. Some will not find their way back to a sense of normalcy. Fear will become their new norm."

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One human life is valuable. Two are even more valuable. And in Gaza, hundreds of such valuable lives have been lost and more are in danger. The world powers and international political organizations are much more interested in bringing down one of the conflicting parties for their own political interests. Some are concerned about the regional effects of the war. But who cares for the loss of life? Is it even important or is it just going to be dealt like an inevitable consequence of war that deserves mere verbal condemnation?

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