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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ODU chapter.

Silent Suffering

Israel, Palestine and Gaza (specifically, Rafah). These places are having devastating effects on men, women and children. We’ve heard of what each side has been doing to the men and women, but why aren’t the children talked about? These young (and impressionable) lives are being caught in the crossfire of violence, political feuds and humanitarian catastrophes. 

This article will hopefully bring to light what others don’t: the sad state of children in this continuous war against Israel and Palestine,what our country (the United States) is doing and facts fromthe United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), one of the biggest advocates for children’s rights. 

Israel’s Impact on the Adolescents of War

We are close to entering the 8-month mark on the war between Israel and Palestine (started October 7, 2023). According to Al Jazeera (a Qatar based Media Company), “thousands of children and minors have been killed and are missing under rubble amid relentless Israeli bombardment; more 6,600 Palestinian children have been killed since October 7.” More than 6,600 have been killed, and that’s not even to include the other thousands missing under rubble and debris. We are supposed to protect our children, are we not? How can we as humans just continue to live and supposedly fight for our country if we just kill children in the process? How is that fighting for our country? It isn’t, this is fighting for political gain and survival—something BOTH of these countries continually do. 

The blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip has further worsened these children’s livelihoods; it has restricted access to essential supplies (food, water, medical aid, etc.). The lack of these necessities has led to malnutrition and severe impacts on mental and physical health along with casualties. 

UNICEF

Catherine Russell, Director of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), recently took a two-day visit to the Middle East (April 14, 2024) to see the affects first hand of children in the war. On her first day, she went to Israel. She explains that while there, she talked with family after family, after they faced horrific circumstances on October 7 (start of the war); including, children being captured and used as bait, the never ending cycle of death and the destruction of their homes and communities. “A relative of the two remaining Israeli children held hostage in Gaza, 4-year-old Ariel and his one-year-old brother, Kfir, told me that he just wants them back, along with their mother and father. ‘We love them so much,” is what one interviewee said to Russell about what they’re facing. 

On the last day of Russell’s two-day trip she went to Palestine. She goes into detail about how on the second day, she met with Palestinian families and officials on their distressing accounts about fear and violence within their lives. “I visited Al Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem, where I met baby triplets Noor, Najwa and Nejma. Doctors told me that their mother came to the hospital from Gaza eight months ago to give birth, and the babies were so small they needed an incubator and special medical care to survive. Their mother had to go back to Gaza, but then war broke out and she was unable to return.  She fears she could die before seeing them again” (Russel, 2024). 

The Gaza Strip alone, close to 14,000 children (Palestinian and Israeli) have been killed and served with an unfortunate death. Thousands injured and thousands on the verge of starvation. 

Hamas’s Impact on the Adolescents of War

For those that do not know, Hamas is an Islamist militant group and serves as a political authority on the Gaza Strip. Since the start of the war and their atrocities on October 7, according to Foreign Affairs, this preferred party (much like America’s Republican and Democrat) has tremendously declined. This group has been accused of using civilian areas, such as schools and hospitals, as command centers and rocket launches, alerting Israel where they are. From the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), an actual member from the militant organization admits that the group is in fact, using these types of areas to cover for its “terrorist activities.” David May, an FDD Senior Researcher, argues that Hamas needs to be removed from power in Gaza, as “they are a threat to all Israelis (men, women and children), Jewish and Arab alike, but also endangers Gazans as well”.

Another grave concern, starting from 2012 to present time, is the recruitment of children in these wars. According to multiple sources, including Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-Palestine), at least nine children have been killed and two other children injured between 2011-2020, due to aiding Palestinian armed groups. This does not EVEN include statistics from the current war from the end of 2023 (stats are still being acquired for it). Children as young as 15 are being trained in combative roles, indoctrinated with violent ideologies and most devastatingly, used as human shields. Not only does this violate the international protective laws, but also robs them of just being kids. 

Are We Even Helping?

If you turn on your news,there’s a 99% chance that the Israel & Palestine War will be talked about. In the beginning, as most are aware, the U.S. Government sided with Israel. They tried to balance a strategic alliance with Israel while trying to conserve its efforts to support the humanitarian missions. At the start of the war, we saw our country provide military aid to Israel, as we saw it as citing the country’s right to defense. However, it caused much backlash from American citizens. 

Global Affairs (GA)  states that the United States has been “deeply embroiled in what is now considered one of the deadliest and most destructive conflicts in recent history.” In fact, once again we the U.S. separate as a country on opinions of the war (what’s new?). The GA put out a statistic stating that the majority of the Republican Party says the U.S. should take Israel’s side (56%) in the ongoing conflict between the two countries, while majority of Democrats (62%) and Independents (60%) stand on the strong grounds of U.S. remaining neutral (or pulling a Switzerland- iykyk).

Posted just a few moments ago as I write this (May 30, 2024), Laura Silver, a writer for PewResearch, explained in her new article the analysis on how Americans now see Israelis and vice versa. 

According to the analysis, Americans and Israelis view each other’s government leaders (Netanyahu-Israel and Biden-America) in a negative light. As you continue to read, it’s all based on confidence. “Israelis’ confidence declined in Biden” and “Americans’ confidence in Netanyahu is little to none”. 

All it seems like America has done is send some aid to Israel, then started to dislike what Israel’s government was doing and decided to step back. Now, the U.S. is not supporting anything. Why is that? Why can’t we send help to civilians on both sides? Israel’s civilians and Palestine’s civilians are innocent. This is both a political tactic and power grab from two countries. So, I ask again: Why can’t we send help to civilians on both sides? 

What’s Next?

The children of Israel, Gaza, Palestine and Rafah are enduring immense suffering due to continuous conflicts. Both Israel and Hamas have contributed a grave amount of damage; resulting in significant lives loss, trauma and disruptions of essential services for children (food, water, education, etc.). Organizations like UNICEF and news outlets like MSNBC play a crucial role in bringing international light on the issues that they are facing in the Middle East. By doing this, it helps with the advocacy for the protection of children’s rights and the urgent need for a resolution. 

Worldwide, we need to prioritize the rights, safety and future for the children, because right now they are used as collateral in a drawn-out conflict. 

As this article finishes, I leave you with one question: What would you do if this was your children, sibling, family member or friend?

Hello everyone! I’m Kylie, a second-year here at Old Dominion. My major is Strategic Communications with a minor in English-Journalism, and I love to write about news/politics and other cultural topics!