Children bear brunt of violence in Gaza

The most recent escalation in the conflict has had a devastating impact on children and their families.

Gaza. A girl stands next to a damaged building.
UNICEF/UN0464417/El Baba
21 May 2021

Gaza’s children have been left reeling from the violent escalation in conflict in May 2021. Lives have been lost and families shattered, with devastating impacts on children. In Gaza, schools and health facilities have been damaged, homes and offices have been flattened, and entire families have been displaced. In Israel, schools, homes and buildings have also been damaged.

Prior to the escalation in violence, 1 in 3 children in Gaza already required support for conflict-related trauma. But the need for mental health and psychosocial support services for children has undoubtedly only grown. Meanwhile, the deterioration of water production capacity in Gaza due to electricity shortages means tens of thousands of children will require humanitarian assistance to access safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

UNICEF is on the ground, supporting the humanitarian needs of families delivering water, distribution and purification materials, medical supplies and psychosocial support to children and families. Being a child in the Gaza Strip has always been extremely difficult, even before the recent escalation. For some children, this was the fourth conflict they lived through. No place is safe for children across the Gaza Strip.

Gaza. A man holds his son outside a store near their damaged home.
UNICEF/UN0464407/El Baba

A Palestinian boy sits on his father’s lap outside a closed shop in front of their destroyed home in the Gaza Strip. The scale of violence has been massive and children in the State of Palestine and Israel have borne the brunt of this escalation.

Gaza. A child stands near a damaged building at the port of Gaza.
UNICEF/UN0464411/El Baba

A young boy stands near a building in the port of Gaza that was damaged during an attack.

Gaza. A boy walks around the remains of his home.
UNICEF/UN0464412/El Baba

A Palestinian boy walks around the remains of his home.

Gaza. Children look out of the window of their house.
UNICEF/UN0464403/El Baba

Children look out from their at destroyed buildings in their neighbourhood in Gaza.

Gaza. A boy holds empty water bottles as he looks for clean water.
UNICEF/UN0463022/El Baba

A boy holds empty water bottles as he looks for a place to fill them with clean drinking water. Bombardments in Gaza have forced hundreds of families to flee their homes and seek emergency shelter in schools operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Essential infrastructure – including groundwater wells and reservoirs, desalination and wastewater plants, water delivery networks and pumping stations – have sustained significant damage.

Gaza. Children play at a school being used as a temporary shelter.
UNICEF/UN0464409/El Baba

A girl plays in the yard of an UNRWA-operated school in the Gaza Strip. Dozens of UNRWA schools are currently used as temporary shelters for families seeking refuge from the violence.

Gaza. A soft toy is pictured in the remains of a destroyed building.
UNICEF/UN0464395/Abu Aseer

A child’s toy is pictured in the rubble of a house in Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip.

Around half the water network is damaged and nearly 800,000 people do not have access to piped water, as groundwater wells and reservoirs, desalination and wastewater plants, water delivery networks and pumping stations, have all sustained significant damage, putting children at risk of contracting water-borne diseases. Meanwhile, electricity output across Gaza has plummeted, leaving hospitals increasingly dependent on generators for the provision of essential healthcare services.

In response to the most recent escalation, UNICEF has been scaling up its capacities and implementing humanitarian interventions focusing on the Gaza Strip, with targeted activities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Read more about UNICEF’s work in the State of Palestine