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One year following from the Gaza protests: Almost 3,000 injured children required hospital treatment

March 29, 2019 at 1:32 am

A Palestinian throws tear gas cannister back to Israeli forces during a”Great March of Return” demonstration near Al Bureij Refugee Camp in Gaza City, Gaza on 8 March, 2019 [Hassan Jedi/Anadolu Agency]

A report released by the international charity Save the Children has revealed that almost 3,000 of the children who were injured in the Great March of Return protests in Gaza last year required serious hospital treatment, staining the credibility of the Israeli military in its measures against child protesters.

On the first anniversary of the mass protests at the Israel-Gaza border, in which at least forty-nine children were killed by live ammunition and Israeli sniper fire, the charity has revived its support for the United Nations’ call for Israel to revise military rules of engagement related to the use of live ammunition against children.

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According to the UN, over 6,000 children have been injured in the Gaza protests by a variety of injuries, including those inflicted by live ammunition, rubber bullets, and tear gas. The World Health Organisation (WHO) also stated that 2,980 children were injured so severely that they required hospital care and even suffered life-changing injuries.

To make matters worse, the requirement for specialist medical support has far exceeded the capabilities of Gaza’s health system, which has been crippled by years of the blockade imposed on it by Israel and prevents the Strip from receiving the materials needed. To add to this situation, a staggering eighty per cent of injured Gazan children who applied to receive emergency medical treatment in Israel have had their permits either rejected or significantly delayed.

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The report has revealed the vast extent to which the thousands of children have been impacted by their injuries, and have uncovered stories detailing the plummeting decline in mental health which the children of Gaza are undergoing. “Children are seeing their friends shot, their parents shot and they are living with the outcomes of this without adequate support to go around to enable them to recover physically or mentally,” said Jeremy Stoner, the Middle East Director for Save the Children. “We are deeply concerned by the psychological impact prolonged exposure to such violence will have on Gaza’s children.”

On the first anniversary of the protest and its brutal handling by Israel, Stoner assured that the charity’s report has called and continues to call for “an end to the Israeli government’s use of sniper fire and live ammunition against children in Gaza demonstrations on the Gaza fence…Save the Children calls for all parties to absolutely prioritise the protection of children and take steps to ensure the safety of children.”