Monday 24 June 2024 - 21:36

Up to 21,000 Children Missing amid Israeli War in Gaza: Aid Group

Story Code : 1143615
Up to 21,000 Children Missing amid Israeli War in Gaza: Aid Group
Save the Children announced that the chaotic conditions in Gaza have left it nearly impossible to gather and verify information, but estimates suggest at least 17,000 children are unaccompanied and separated from their families. Approximately 4,000 children are believed to be trapped under rubble, with an unknown number buried in mass graves.

The organization also highlighted that some children have been forcibly disappeared, including those detained and transferred out of Gaza, with their families unaware of their whereabouts amidst reports of ill-treatment and torture.

Jeremy Stoner, Save the Children's regional director for the Middle East, emphasized the need for an independent investigation and accountability. "Families are tortured by the uncertainty of the whereabouts of their loved ones. No parent should have to dig through rubble or mass graves to find their child’s body. No child should be alone, unprotected in a war zone. No child should be detained or held hostage," Stoner stated.

He added, "Children who are missing but alive face grave protection risks and must be found and reunited with their families. For those who have been killed, their deaths must be formally marked, their families informed, burial rites respected, and accountability sought. Gaza has become a graveyard for children, with thousands missing and their fates unknown. We need a ceasefire to find and support the surviving children and prevent further family destruction."

Khaled Quzmar, general director of Defense for Children International Palestine, described the atrocities against children in Gaza as unprecedented.

"We have been working in this field for more than 30 years, but what we are witnessing in Gaza is at a level we did not see during the Second World War," Quzmar told Al Jazeera. "It is a war against children. Children in Gaza are the big cost of the Israeli genocide in Gaza."

He added, "Children are also subjected to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The fundamental rights of the children in Gaza are violated systematically and continuously by the Israeli army."

Earlier this month, the UN added Israel to the "blacklist" of countries harming children in conflict.

Since October 7, more than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, nearly half of whom are children, alarming aid agencies, including the UN.