Over 13,000 children killed in Gaza, others severely malnourished: UNICEF

The UN agency says surviving children do not ‘even have the energy to cry’ as famine looms in the besieged enclave being bombarded for months.

A Palestinian girl holds a bowl of beans before an iftar meal
A Palestinian girl holds a bowl of beans before an iftar meal in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip [File: Mohammed Abed/AFP]

Israel has killed more than 13,000 children in Gaza since October 7 while others are suffering from severe malnutrition and do not “even have the energy to cry”, says the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“Thousands more have been injured or we can’t even determine where they are. They may be stuck under rubble … We haven’t seen that rate of death among children in almost any other conflict in the world,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell told the CBS News network on Sunday.

“I have been in wards of children who are suffering from severe anaemia malnutrition, the whole ward is absolutely quiet. Because the children, the babies … don’t even have the energy to cry.”

Russell said there were “very great bureaucratic challenges” moving trucks into Gaza for aid and assistance as famine stalks more than two million Palestinians since Israel’s “genocidal” war began.

Moreover, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), one in three children under the age of two in northern Gaza is now acutely malnourished. The agency also warned that famine is looming in the besieged enclave facing relentless Israeli bombing for more than five months.

International criticism has mounted on Israel due to the death toll of the war, the starvation crisis in Gaza, and allegations of blocking aid deliveries into the enclave.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his threat of a ground assault on Rafah, the town bordering Egypt where more than a million Palestinians have taken refuge.

“No amount of international pressure will stop us from realising all the goals of the war: eliminating Hamas, releasing all our hostages and ensuring that Gaza will no longer pose a threat against Israel,” Netanyahu said in a video released by his office.

“To do this, we will also operate in Rafah,” he said.

Since October 7, Israel’s military campaign has killed at least 31,645 Palestinians in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to Gaza’s health ministry, and displaced nearly two million of its residents.

The Israeli operation has also led to accusations of genocide, being probed at the UN’s International Court of Justice.

Israel has repeatedly denied the genocide charges and stressed that it is acting in self-defence after the October 7 attack by Hamas that it says killed more than 1,130 people and took more than 200 as captives.

Source: News Agencies