On Oct 28, the world was stunned to receive news of the total blackout in Gaza. The Israeli government had cut off all means of communication with the outside world for the people in Gaza.
Gaza was now completely under siege. With no internet and mobile phone coverage, there was no way of getting live updates on the situation in Gaza. Worse, the Zionist military forces had warned that they were going to intensify their ground assault just hours before the blackout. Up till then, the death toll had already topped 7,000. This did not include the countless bodies buried under the massive rubble. The number of dead kept on rising.
Against the brutality of the Zionist regime, I could not stop thinking about how the Palestinians in Gaza would emerge from this Holocaust, especially the children. At the time of writing, 42 per cent of the death toll was children. This means around 176 children are killed daily.
This is unfathomable. A genocide is taking place before our eyes. The children are innocent. Don’t their lives matter? Don’t they have the right to grow up and live their dreams?
As I watched my daughter sleep, my mind drifted to the children in Gaza who survived the onslaught. They lost their parents, family members, and homes. The injured may not receive emergency treatment because the hospitals in Gaza are overcrowded, with medical supplies fast running out. Some of these children will suffer permanent disabilities and life-long post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The situation in Gaza is deeply distressing, and the immense suffering and challenges faced by the Palestinian people, particularly the children, are horrific. Those who survive are now displaced from their homes.
During the early stages of the war, the children were rescued and given shelter at hospitals or schools. But then, as the Zionist regime started targeting and bombing hospitals, refugee camps, and civilian homes, there was no safe place in Gaza anymore.
Many of these children were orphaned overnight. It is terrifying to think where these children sleep at night.
Food and medical supplies were reported to be critically low. People had to queue in line for four to five hours for a loaf of bread, and that had to be shared with family members. Tonnes of emergency aid were sent to Gaza, only to be blocked by Israeli forces at the Egypt-Palestine border. This has resulted in delays in the delivery of medical and food supplies.
Water supply was also cut. How will these children get clean water to drink? It’s disheartening to see these children being deprived of even the most fundamental of necessities. Most importantly, do we even know the exact number of children who survived?
For me, as someone whose profession often deals with estimating the age of living persons, especially children without identity, I could not stop thinking about the fate of these Palestinian children, as they are the most vulnerable in the crisis.
The world has been pressing for a ceasefire in Gaza. The focus in Gaza now revolves around the recovery, rescue, and the rehabilitation of the victims.
What will happen to the children and infants who survive, when the war ends? Will they be stateless in their own land, or will they become just like the other refugees who have to seek protection from another country?
As World Children’s Day is celebrated on Nov 20, it is important to raise awareness about the suffering of the surviving children in Gaza and to advocate for their rights.
Additionally, supporting humanitarian organisations and promoting peaceful dialogue can contribute to a more stable and just future for the surviving children in Gaza.
We feel helpless and frustrated, being able to only watch their suffering from afar. Eventually, we know that the day will come when we have to be answerable for this terrifying tragedy. The loss of life, the destruction, and the displaced Palestinians are tragic and demand attention from the international community.
Let’s look ahead because sooner or later, we all believe that Palestine will be free. Perhaps we should start taking actions that are within our capacity. Remember, children make up 50 per cent of the population in Gaza.
We can start by planning for the future and welfare of the surviving children by providing immediate relief, psychological support, education, and protection.
It is definitely our responsibility to fight for these children’s rights and to protect them.
The writer is a Forensic Odontologist Specialist at the Faculty of Dentistry, Universiti Malaya.
The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of Twentytwo13.