Lawyer Ahmed Abofoul, legal advisor for the human rights organization Al-Haq based in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, assessed the tragic toll on children in Gaza resulting from Israel's attacks on World Children's Rights Day, November 20. Abofoul highlighted the collapse of the health system in Gaza, describing overcrowded hospitals with injured individuals in corridors, surgeries conducted without anesthesia, and morgues at full capacity. He underscored the plight of hundreds of thousands seeking refuge in schools, where the risk of epidemics due to overflowing toilets looms large.
Abofoul lamented the increasing difficulty in determining the casualty count in Gaza, particularly the number of children impacted. Citing statistics from Save the Children, he revealed a shocking rate of Palestinian deaths by Israel, with an average of one person every four minutes in Gaza. The statement pointed out that, within three weeks, the number of children killed by Israel surpassed the annual toll in conflict zones worldwide since 2019.
Abofoul accused Israel of committing over 1,050 massacres in Gaza, targeting more than 125 health facilities and leaving approximately 20 hospitals out of service. Comparisons were drawn to the scale of bombings in Gaza, exceeding the USA's actions in Afghanistan and Russia's in Ukraine. Abofoul contended that Israel's actions amount to genocide and demanded an immediate halt.
He criticized Israel for deliberately and systematically violating six serious violations against children in times of war, as outlined by the UN Security Council. Abofoul stressed the obligation of armed forces to protect civilians, especially children, under international humanitarian law. He argued that the Israeli army failed to provide convincing evidence that it had not compromised the special protection status of civilian infrastructure, particularly hospitals.
Abofoul claimed that Israel's deliberate targeting of civilians, particularly women and children, constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity, including starvation, forced displacement, ethnic cleansing, and torture. He lamented the suffering of Palestinian children, more than half of Gaza's population, who have endured multiple attacks and trauma.
Abofoul decried the term "Wounded Child No Surviving Family" being used for Palestinian children in Gaza and condemned the international community, especially UNICEF, for failing to protect children during armed conflicts. He criticized the UN for excluding Israel from the blacklist of countries violating children's rights in conflict, contrasting it with Russia's inclusion.
In conclusion, Abofoul called the UN's failure to protect Palestinian children a scandal, questioning its credibility and effectiveness while emphasizing the ongoing suffering of Palestinian children.