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Children take to streets of Gaza, to call for normal lives

The children of Gaza yesterday staged street demonstrations seeking to break the siege on the tiny Strip.

Carrying the flags of Arab States, the children made an appeal that they be allowed to live decent, happy, normal lives like other children across the world.

As the global community belatedly wakes up to the impact of the three-year economic blockade of Gaza after last week’s lethal commando raid on a pro-Palestinian flotilla, the children also demanded that the world step in.

The situation there means even the most basic needs of life such as enough food for them to eat, school stationary and various other goods are prohibited.

The children asked that the international community come together to bring an end to the continuous attacks, The Middle East Monitor news service reported. By demonstrating on the streets, the children hope to put pressure on Israel to open the border crossings and allow Gazans to travel abroad for medical treatment, education and other things.

Holding up banners and placards with their appeals and demands written in English; the children sent out a clear message to the Western world alongside the message to their neighbours that it high time the world intervenes and finds a solution to the ongoing problem

Since June 2007, the Gaza Strip has been controlled by Hamas, which several countries classify as a terrorist organisation. In 1988 Hamas called for the replacement of Israel and the Palestinian Territories with an Islamic Palestinian state, but in November 2008 said it was willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1949 Armistice lines. Israel will not negotiate, and has imposed a blockade since Hamas took charge of the region.

By the end of the 2008-9 campaign, in February last year, more than 1,800 Palestinian children had been wounded, according to a World Health Organisation report. And the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, an aid organisation based in Gaza City, says that 313 under-18s were killed.

Homelessness is just one of the issues facing the 780,000 Gazan children. But perhaps the most disturbing is the emotional scars borne by children who have survived the conflict. The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme reported earlier this year that the majority of children show signs of anxiety, depression and behavioural problems. Families have been fractured by the conflict, with many parents racked by guilt because they couldn't protect their children from the violence, and now cannot provide for them in the aftermath. 

Hayley attribution