11 Palestinian children killed by Israeli strikes had been receiving trauma care
Eleven of the children killed in recent Israeli air raids on Gaza were being treated for trauma, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said on Tuesday.
The children, aged between five and 15, were part of a psycho-social programme aimed at helping them to cope with previous trauma experienced in their lives within the besieged enclave.
“We are devastated to learn that 11 children we were helping with trauma were bombarded while they were at home and thought they were safe,” said NRC's Secretary General Jan Egeland.
“They are now gone, killed with their families, buried with their dreams and the nightmares that haunted them,” he added.
Over the past two week, Israel has conducted hundreds of air raids on Gaza, killing over 200 people, including 61 children.
The 11 children who were part of the NRC’s trauma programme were killed when Israel launched relentless attacks against densely populated areas.
We are devastated to learn that 11 of the children we help in #Gaza with trauma from previous violence are now killed by Israeli missiles.— Jan Egeland (@NRC_Egeland) May 18, 2021
Israel must stop this madness: children must be protected. Their homes and schools must not be targets. https://t.co/fz8vSssqzZ
Among those killed was Hala Hussein al-Rifi, 13, who died when an airstrike on 12 May hit a residential building in the Tel Al-Hawa neighbourhood of Gaza City. The attack also claimed the lives of four-year-old Zaid Mohammad Telbani and his mother Rima, who was five months pregnant. Zaid's sister remains missing and is presumed dead.
When multiple airstrikes hit Al-Wahda Street in central Gaza on 16 May, eight of the children being helped by NRC were killed, along with many of their family members. Tala Ayman Abu al-Auf, 13, was among those killed. She died with her 17-year-old brother, and their father, Dr Ayman Abu al-Auf, the head of internal medicine at Gaza City’s Shifa hospital.
That same attack also killed Rula Mohammad al-Kawlak, 5, Yara, 9, and Hala, 12 – all sisters - together with their cousin Hana, 14, and several other of their relatives, as well as sisters Dima and Mira Rami al-Ifranji, 15 and 11, and neighbour Dana Riad Hasan Ishkantna, 9.
The final victim, Rafeef Murshed Abu Dayer, 10, was killed on 17 May, as she ate lunch in the garden with her two brothers, who were also killed. Rafeef would have celebrated her 11th birthday next week.
According to NRC, since 10 May, 50 educational facilities have been hit by Israeli airstrikes or tank fire. At least six of these facilities are thought to have sustained serious damage.
“As an urgent measure, we appeal to all parties for an immediate ceasefire so that we can reach those in need and spare more civilians,” pleaded Egeland.
“But the truth is that there can be no peace or security as long as there are systemic injustices. The siege of Gaza needs to be lifted and the occupation of Palestinians must end if we are to avoid more trauma and death among children and new cycles of destruction every few years,” he added.