Four out of five children in the Gaza Strip suffer from depression, sadness and fear as a result of living under Israel's stifling blockade, Save the Children said in a report published today.
Entitled 'Trapped', the UK charity's report includes details from interviews with 488 children and 168 parents and caregivers in Gaza, and revealed a drastic deterioration since their last research in 2018.
The number of those reporting symptoms of "depression, grief and fear", has risen from 55 per cent to 80 per cent.
The report showed a significant increase in the number of children who reported feeling fearful, 84 per cent compared with 50 per cent in 2018, while those feeling nervous rose to 80 per cent compared from 55 per cent, and sadness or depression escalated to 77 per cent from 62 per cent.
Meanwhile, grief has risen to 78 per cent from 55 per cent. Only yesterday Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights revealed that Israeli military attacks have killed 5,418 Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip since 2007.
Jason Lee, director of Save the Children in the occupied Palestinian territories, said:
The children we spoke to for this report described living in a perpetual state of fear, worry, sadness and grief, waiting for the next round of violence to erupt, and feeling unable to sleep or concentrate.
"The physical evidence of their distress – bedwetting, loss of ability to speak or to complete basic tasks – is shocking and should serve as a wakeup call to the international community," he added.
Save the Children also reported that more than half of Gaza's children thought about suicide and three out of five self-harm.
Israel has imposed a crippling siege on the Gaza Strip since the summer of 2007, which has badly affected livelihoods in the Palestinian territory.
Save the Children urged the Israeli government to take immediate steps to lift the blockade and bring an end to the ongoing occupation.
"We call on all sides to tackle the root causes of this conflict and take steps to protect all children and families who deserve to live in safety and dignity. We need an immediate end to the conflict and economic deprivation that are huge stressors in children's lives, as well as activities to support the coping potential and resilience of children and their families in the Gaza Strip," it said in a statement.