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Commentary: Palestinian and Israeli children continue to suffer as international law is routinely ignored

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LONG-LASTING DAMAGE TO CHILDREN

The sort of damage they are referring to was the subject of a recent study in which my colleagues and I explored the protection of refugee children in the Gaza Strip and Jordan. We looked at the threats they were exposed to, and how those threats could be reduced.

We found the situations in the two places to be markedly different. In Jordan, daily life was tough, but somehow families managed. In the Gaza Strip, children were routinely exposed to mortal danger which rained down from the skies at any time. The helplessness of Palestinian parents was regularly laid bare.

As one mother in Gaza told us: “Honestly, … I never feel safe, and I am always terrified that something bad might happen and hurt my children. They never feel safe or comfortable. They are not mentally or physically healthy.”

That interview was conducted a few months after a major outbreak of military violence in 2021 in which 66 Palestinian children were killed. Two years later, even greater hostilities are occurring.

Compounding the threat to children’s survival, Israel has announced that the 16-year blockade of Gaza will become even more punitive with the withholding of food, water, electricity and fuel. Meanwhile, major donors to the Palestinians, including the European Commission and the governments of Germany and Austria, are considering the suspension of aid.

The ability of Palestinian parents to protect their children is being comprehensively undermined as never before. And it seems that international law counts for nothing.

Jason Hart is Professor of Humanitarianism and Development, University of Bath. This commentary first appeared on The Conversation.

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