Doctors Without Borders said 100% of the patients in their clinic in Gaza on Wednesday were children.
Bashar Taleb/AFP via Getty Images
Doctors Without Borders in Gaza said 100% of patients treated on Wednesday were kids.
About 1 million children live in Gaza. People under 18 make up nearly half the population.
Relief groups said blocked aid is impacting their ability to provide medical care.
Two days after Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant declared the “complete siege” of Gaza, doctors and aid organizations in the Palestinian territory said the majority of their patients have been children.
Doctors Without Borders told Insider that, on Wednesday, in fact, 100% of their patients were children.
“Today, all of the patients we received at our clinic in Gaza City were children between 10 and 14,” Ayman Al-Djaroucha, deputy project coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Gaza, said on Wednesday. “This is because the majority of the injured in Gaza are women and children, since they are the ones who are most often in the houses that get destroyed in the airstrikes.”
Israel launched retaliatory airstrikes on the Gaza Strip after Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, unleashed a surprise attack on southern Israel that officials say killed 1,000 people and injured at least 2,806 more, including children. It was the worst attack on Israel in its history. It also came as a surprise to most Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip.
Israel has responded with a devastating counterattack. Israeli airstrikes have leveled whole blocks, including apartment buildings, schools, and hospitals. Israel is also gearing up for an imminent ground invasion.
Gaza is a densely populated area about the size of Philadelphia. It is home to about 2.3 million Palestinians. Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade — preventing the free movement of many goods, as well as people — on Gaza since Hamas beat the secular Palestinian Fatah party in local elections in 2006.
The territory is surrounded by walls and razor wire and guarded by Egypt and Israel, both of which are hostile governments. After the Hamas attack on Saturday, Israel said it cut deliveries of food, water, electricity, and fuel completely.
That blockade is one of the biggest concerns for Doctors Without Borders staff, Brienne Prusak, a spokesperson with the nonprofit, told Insider.
“We’re seeing shortages of water, electricity, fuel, and essential medical supplies in hospitals, and our emergency stocks on the ground are limited and will run out quickly if we can’t bring in medical equipment and medicines,” Prusak said.
Steve Sosebee, president of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, an aid organization with three offices and about 50 staff members in Gaza, said his organization can’t provide necessary aid without access to essential medical supplies.
“Everything that was available has been purchased and distributed within the local markets, and it’s impossible to get aid from outside,” Sosebee told Insider. “So, really, there’s no aid to provide, unfortunately.”
Sosebee said the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund is supposed to be treating 12 kids with cancer in their pediatric oncology department in Gaza City. However, their staff aren’t able to as they focus on staying alive amid the airstrikes, he said.
People under 18 make up nearly half of Gaza’s population, which means about 1 million children are facing threats of injury or death, Insider previously reported. As of October 11, Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 260 children, the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported.
Sosebee said the conflict between Israel and Hamas will have severe impacts on the mental health of children and civilians caught in the crossfire.
“The impact of kids someday going back to school — where schools are partially damaged or damaged, and being unable to concentrate with the high level of PTSD that the majority of children suffer from — is incomprehensible,” Sosebee said. “And in the health sector itself, you have huge overflowing and influx of trauma patients who need to be treated.”
As of October 11, Israel’s counterattack has killed about 830 people in Gaza, according to the United Nations.
“When this ends, we can only imagine the amount of effort and attention that needs to go into trying to repair the damages in Gaza,” Sosebee told Insider.