Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Crisis in Gaza: Schools Destroyed in Israel’s War


The Impact of the Israel-Hamas War on Children in Gaza

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has had devastating consequences for the children of Gaza, with their long-term potential and opportunities being severely threatened. According to charity Save the Children, all schools in Gaza have been closed since Israel launched its offensive in October, affecting 625,000 students. In addition, relentless airstrikes have destroyed every university in the Strip.

Despair and uncertainty loom large for parents like Ahmad, a displaced father in Rafah, who worries about the future of his three children. “I can’t see a life for them anymore,” he lamented. The primary concern for parents in Gaza is now focused on keeping their children safe and alive. However, many are also aware that the impact of the conflict on their education and development will be profound.

A report published in March revealed that approximately 87.7 percent of school facilities in Gaza have been damaged or destroyed. 212 school buildings have been directly hit, while 282 others have sustained varying degrees of damage. The Education Cluster has faced access challenges, particularly in the North Gaza governorates, prompting a satellite-derived damage assessment to assess the state of educational facilities.

Attacks on schools represent severe violations against children under International Humanitarian Law. Prolonged absence from school not only disrupts learning but also leads to regression in progress. Past experiences have shown that children are less likely to return to school the longer they are away from it, jeopardizing their future economic well-being and mental and physical health. They also become more vulnerable to violence and abuse.

Save the Children emphasized the importance of stable routines, opportunities to learn and play, and the presence of family as essential protective factors for children to mitigate the risk of lasting mental harm. Despite the challenges they face, children in Gaza have consistently expressed a strong desire to return to school, viewing it as a crucial step towards restoring normalcy and continuing their educational and social development.

Maher, a father in Gaza, shared his child’s poignant words: “I want to eat healthy food. I really want to go to school and live my old, normal life. And I want to play.” Save the Children has called for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire, an end to the siege on Gaza, and the reopening of all crossings to ensure the flow of both commercial and humanitarian goods. The organization also demands that the Israeli government ceases unlawful attacks on educational facilities and fully implements the Safe Schools Declaration.

In conclusion, the Israel-Hamas conflict has had a devastating impact on the children of Gaza, threatening their education, development, and overall well-being. It is imperative for all parties involved to prioritize the protection and rights of children in conflict zones and work towards ensuring a safe and secure future for them.

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