According to an initial report from the United Nations, 26 Palestinians, including six children, and four Israelis have been killed in the raging clashes this month. In addition, some 3,600 Palestinians and 40 Israelis have been injured. The West Bank is experiencing the highest number of casualties and injuries since 2005, when the United Nations started documenting casualties in the area.
Last week, an Israeli airstrike against Hamas, an Islamic militant group, struck and killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and a toddler. Authorities in both areas continue to coordinate more security in the West Bank to prevent further death. In the Gaza Strip, authorities are busy containing demonstrations and preventing retaliatory airstrikes at Israel.
SOS relief in Gaza City
Our emergency response teams both on-the-ground and at our international office have been closely monitoring the dynamics of the crisis. Over the last several months a strict security protocol has been implemented for our programmes in the Gaza Strip. Communication between car movements are being conducted. Staff are undergoing security and first-aid training, and the facilities are equipped with emergency supplies.
We have set up an Interim Care Centre for unaccompanied and separated children who are facing protection issues in the current situation. We are also implementing emergency support to families who are facing socioeconomic challenges, and where children are suffering from the situation.
The effect on our work
All of our children and staff remain safe. However, the recent heightened violence in the region is affecting our work. The violent clashes and airstrikes are having a big impact on the children’s lives. Our programmes in Palestine are suffering as many activities have had to be cancelled due safety regulations.We are working diligently to support the children in our care. Due to the on-going nature of the situation, the violence is inevitably taking a heavy toll on children’s well-being.
Mohammad Shalaldeh, National Director of SOS Children’s Village Palestine, explains that the recent violence has starting to break the hope for peace that people had on both sides.
“The children we work with are deeply affected. Many young Palestinians have been killed and the effect of children seeing the violence and hearing the news that their peers have been killed is haunting,” said Mr. Shalaldeh.
In the West Bank, outreach staff have not been able to conduct visits to the Family Strengthening Programme in the past few weeks. As a result, it has been a challenge to provide assistance to families who are in need. The violence has prevented us from providing transportation assistance to school children, and carry out an advocacy programme.
Helping children in Palestine and Israel
SOS Children is a non-political, non-denominational and non-governmental international organization. We respect all religions and cultures and work in 134 countries and territories, including both Palestine and Israel.
Our work in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel seek to support vulnerable children regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion or political affiliation. Our main concern is the safety and well-being of all children affected at this time of crisis, and we have called for both sides of the conflict to adhere to the United Nations rights of a child.
*All figures as of 12 October 2015