Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell on escalation of hostilities in Israel and the State of Palestine

13 May 2023

NEW YORK, 13 May 2023 “Escalating violence in and around the Gaza Strip is once again wreaking havoc on the lives of children.

“At least six children – the youngest just four-years-old – have been killed and 36 reported injured in the Gaza Strip since 9 May. All schools in the Gaza Strip are closed, as well as those in Israel within 40 km, interrupting education for thousands of students. Water and sanitation systems in the Gaza Strip are running low on fuel, and health centers are now operating at half capacity, undermining access to essential services for children –  especially the injured – and other vulnerable groups.

“This latest escalation follows a spike in conflict-related violence that has left 26 Palestinian children and four Israeli children dead since the start of the year – three times the number of conflict-related child deaths recorded in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip during the same period in 2022. And it comes after 87 children were killed and more than 750 were injured during previous rounds of hostilities in the past two years. 

“For decades, children across the State of Palestine and Israel have been forced to endure a seemingly endless cycle of hostilities, many with nowhere safe to turn. They have been exposed to terrifying violence, exacting an incalculable toll on their mental health and well-being – young lives lost or changed forever.

“UNICEF deplores all acts of violence against children and calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities and for all parties to protect children from all forms of violence and grave violations, in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law.

“The children in the region need and deserve a long-term political solution to the broader crisis so they can grow up in peace and safety.”


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