Following an escalation in tensions, Israel has carried out more than 220 air strikes on the Gaza Strip. Reports from the Palestinian territory say that more than 80 people have been killed, including 18 children. 600 people have been injured in the three-day offensive, with half of the casualities being civilians.
Meanwhile, Palestinian militants have fired a dozen rockets into Israel. Some of these rockets have targeted Tel Aviv. Due to Israeli intercepion equipment and defence systems, there have been no injuries or serious damage caused in Israel.
Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary-General, described the current situation in the region as "troubling and volatile" and that "Gaza is on a knife edge". "I firmly condemn the multiple rocket attacks launched from Gaza on Israel... [and] I condemn the rising number of civilian lives lost in Gaza" he said.
Is the SOS Children's Village in Gaza safe?
Rafah is a border town in the south of the Gaza strip. 15km from the densely populated town is SOS Children's Village Rafah. Here, up to 120 children and young people are cared for in SOS families. Fortunately, all children and staff in the Village are unharmed. However, due to the current conflict and related safety concerns, all outdoor activities at the Village have stopped.
When the recent violence began, many children and young people who live at our Children's Village were visiting their extended family for Ramadan. They will remain with their extended family for the time being, and only return to the SOS Children's Village when the security of the area improves.
The children in the SOS Children's Village are being cared for by their SOS mothers, while the Village Director and other staff work to ensure their safety. At present, they have enough food, water, gas and electricity. Emergency medical supplies are available if needed, as well as the medical expertise of an SOS nurse. The Village maintains good access to telecommunication and transport services, and we are receiving regular updates from them.
We urge all parties to protect the lives of children
Richard Pichler, CEO of SOS Children's Villages International, has urged both sides of the conflict to prioritise the safety and well-being of children, and to follow international laws:
“The eruption of violence in Israel and the Palestinian Territories again has had a direct impact on the SOS Children’s Village located near Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. A number of air strikes appear to have targeted locations not far from the village, which has no political affiliation. The SOS children are currently unable to leave the village because of safety concerns.
We remind all parties to the conflict to respect their obligation under international human rights law to protect the lives and well-being of children. We trust they will do everything they can to ensure that no harm befalls the SOS Children’s Villages programme and its children.”
Long-term support for Palestinian children
Due to the political, social and economic situation in the Gaza Strip, people living there have faced difficulties for many years. We have been supporting families and children in Gaza since 1999, when our Children's Village in Rafah was established.
Through our community programmes, we help to strengthen families in Rafah and prevent children from ending up alone. When a child has been orphaned, neglected or abandoned, they can find a loving home at the SOS Children's Village. An SOS Nursery and Primary School in the area delivers quality education to local children, helping them to tap into their potential and have hope for their future.
Thank you for your support and concern for SOS Children's Village Rafah. If you would like to help a child in the region and secure their well-being, have you considered sponsoring a child in the Palestinian Territories or Israel?