Gazan children orphaned by war suffer as war continues

Gazan children orphaned by war suffer as war continues
Palestinian men and children gather for a demonstration in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on January 30, 2024, calling for continued international support to UNRWA. (File/AFP)
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Updated 31 January 2024
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Gazan children orphaned by war suffer as war continues

Gazan children orphaned by war suffer as war continues
  • With entire families in Gaza nearly wiped out, medics and rescuers struggle to find caregivers for bereaved children

LONDON: Amid the horrors of Israel’s war on Gaza, a one-month-old baby girl born during the violence lies alone in an incubator.
Her mother Hanna was killed in an Israeli airstrike, giving birth via Caesarean section without ever holding her child.
"We just call her the daughter of Hanna Abu Amsha," Warda al-Awawda, a nurse who is caring for the newborn at the al-Aqsa Hospital, told the BBC.
Children, who make up nearly half of Gaza's population of 2.3 million, have had their lives shattered by the brutal war, the BBC reported.
Despite Israel's claims of avoiding civilian casualties, more than 11,500 children have been killed according to Palestinian health officials. Many more have sustained serious, often life-altering injuries
With entire families in Gaza nearly wiped out, medics and rescuers frequently struggle to find caregivers for bereaved children.
"We have lost contact with her family. "None of her relatives have shown up and we don't know what happened to her father,” al-Awawda,
A report from the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor suggests that over 24,000 children have lost one or both parents.
The toll is evident in stories like that of 10-year-old Ibrahim Abu Mouss, who suffered severe leg and stomach injuries from a missile strike that killed his mother, grandfather, and sister.
"They kept telling me they were being treated upstairs in the hospital," Ibrahim told the BBC as his father clutches his hand.
"But I found out the truth when I saw photos on my dad's phone. I cried so much that I hurt all over."
The cousins of the Hussein family used to play together but now sit quietly beside the sandy graves near a converted school-shelter in central Gaza, graves that hold some of their relatives. Each cousin has endured the loss of either one or both parents.
"The missile fell on my mum's lap and her body was torn into pieces. For days we were taking her body parts from the rubble of the house," Abed Hussein, who lived in al-Bureij refugee camp, said
"When they said that my brother, my uncle and my whole family were killed I felt like my heart was bleeding with fire," he added.
The trauma leaves him sleepless, haunted by the memories and ongoing shelling.
"When my mum and dad were alive, I used to sleep but after they were killed, I can't sleep any more. I used to sleep next to my dad," he explained.
Life for Abed and his two surviving siblings, now in their grandmother's care, is immensely challenging.
"There's no food or water," he says. "I have a stomach ache from drinking sea water."
Similarly, Kinza Hussein mourns her father, who was killed by a missile while attempting to procure flour for bread. The distressing sight of his lifeless body, brought back for burial, haunts her.
"He had no eyes, and his tongue was cut," she remembers.
"All we want is for the war to be over," she says. "Everything is sad."
Nearly everyone in Gaza now relies on aid handouts for the basics of life.
UN reports indicate that about 1.7 million Palestinians in the strip are displaced, many in constant search for safety.
However, United Nations Children's Fund highlights the plight of approximately 19,000 children now orphaned or alone.
"Many of these children have been found under the rubble or have lost their parents in the bombing of their home," Jonathan Crickx, chief of communications for UNICEF Palestine, told the BBC. Others have been found at Israeli checkpoints, hospitals and on the streets.
"The youngest ones very often cannot say their name and even the older ones are usually in shock so it can be extremely difficult to identify them and potentially regroup them with their extended family."
Even when relatives can be found, they are not always well placed to help care for bereaved children.
Relatives, when located, often struggle to care for these children due to their own challenging circumstances. SOS Children's Villages, collaborating with UNICEF has stepped in to care for 55 such children under 10, offering psychological support. One striking case is a four-year-old girl with selective mutism, an anxiety disorder which left her unable to speak about , now slowly recovering in their care.
Since the war started, a non-profit organization, SOS Children's Villages, which works locally with Unicef, says it has been working to take in 55 such children, all aged under 10. It has employed additional specialist staff in Rafah to give psychological help.
A senior SOS staff member tells me about a four-year-old who had been left at a checkpoint. She was brought in with selective mutism, an anxiety disorder which left her unable to speak about what had happened to her and her family, but is now making progress after being welcomed with gifts and playing with other children she lives with.
UNICEF estimates that nearly all children in Gaza require mental health support. Even with a lasting ceasefire, the deep scars and losses endured will challenge their ability to rebuild their lives.
 


More aid getting from US pier to people in Gaza, officials say, after troubled launch

More aid getting from US pier to people in Gaza, officials say, after troubled launch
Updated 6 sec ago
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More aid getting from US pier to people in Gaza, officials say, after troubled launch

More aid getting from US pier to people in Gaza, officials say, after troubled launch
  • Crowds overrun some of the first trucks coming from the new US-led sea route and taking its contents over the weekend, leading to a two-day suspension of aid distribution
  • At maximum capacity, the pier would bring in enough food for 500,000 of Gaza’s people. US officials stressed the need for flow through open land crossings for the remaining 1.8 million

WASHINGTON: A six-day-old US pier project in Gaza is starting to get more aid to Palestinians in need but conditions are challenging, US officials said Thursday. That reflects the larger problems bringing food and other supplies to starving people in the besieged territory.

The floating pier had a troubled launch, with crowds overrunning some of the first trucks coming from the new US-led sea route and taking its contents over the weekend. One man in the crowd was shot dead in still-unexplained circumstances. It led to a two-day suspension of aid distribution.
The US military worked with the UN and Israeli officials to select safer alternate routes for trucks coming from the pier, US Vice Admiral Brad Cooper told reporters Thursday.
As a result, the US pier on Wednesday accounted for 27 of the 70 total trucks of aid that the UN was able to round up from all land and sea crossings into Gaza for distribution to civilians, the United States said.
That’s a fraction of the 150 truckloads of food, emergency nutrition treatment and other supplies that US officials aim to bring in when the sea route is working at maximum capacity.
Plus, Gaza needs 600 trucks entering each day, according to the US Agency for International Development, to curb a famine that the heads of USAID and the UN World Food Program have said has begun in the north and to keep it from spreading south.

Only one of the 54 trucks that came from the pier Tuesday and Wednesday encountered any security issues on their way to aid warehouses and distribution points, US officials said. They called the issues “minor” but gave no details.
A deepening Israeli offensive in the southern city of Rafah has made it impossible for aid shipments to get through the crossing there, which is a key source for fuel and food coming into Gaza. Israel says it is bringing aid in through another border crossing, Kerem Shalom, but humanitarian organizations say Israeli military operations make it difficult for them to retrieve the aid there for distribution.
The Biden administration last week launched the $320 million floating pier for a new maritime aid route into Gaza as the seven-month-old Israel-Hamas war and Israeli restrictions on land crossings have severely limited food deliveries to 2.3 million Palestinians.
For all humanitarian efforts, “the risks are manifold,” Daniel Dieckhaus, USAID’s response director for Gaza, said at a briefing with Cooper. “This is an active conflict with deteriorating conditions.”
Dieckhaus rejected charges from some aid groups that the pier is diverting attention from what the US, UN and relief workers say is the essential need for Israel to allow full access to land crossings for humanitarian shipments.
For instance, Jeremy Konyndyk, a former USAID official now leading Refugees International, tweeted that “the pier is humanitarian theater.”
“I would not call, within a couple of days, getting enough food and other supplies for tens of thousands of people for a month theater,” Dieckhaus said Thursday when asked about the criticism.
At maximum capacity, the pier would bring in enough food for 500,000 of Gaza’s people. US officials stressed the need for flow through open land crossings for the remaining 1.8 million.
 


Three US troops have non-combat injuries during Gaza pier operation

Three US troops have non-combat injuries during Gaza pier operation
Updated 26 min 35 sec ago
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Three US troops have non-combat injuries during Gaza pier operation

Three US troops have non-combat injuries during Gaza pier operation

WASHINGTON: Three US troops suffered non-combat injuries in the effort to make a temporary pier off the coast of Gaza into a conduit for humanitarian aid, with one in critical condition at an Israeli hospital, US officials said on Thursday.

The injuries were the first for US forces during the latest operation to bring humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

The pier was announced by US President Joe Biden in March and involved the military assembling the floating structure off the coast. Estimated to cost $320 million for the first 90 days and involve about 1,000 US service members, it went into operation last week.

US Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, the deputy commander of US Central Command, told reporters that two of the troops had a sprained ankle and a minor back injury.

“Two were very minor, routine injuries. Those individuals returned to duty,” Cooper said.

A third service member, injured on a ship at sea, was medically evacuated to a hospital in Israel, he said. A US defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the individual was in critical condition.

US lawmakers have voiced concern about the risks to positioning US troops off the coast of Gaza. Biden has said they will not step foot in the war-torn city itself.

The Pentagon has said it will prioritize the safety of US military personnel.

“We’re clear eyed and we continue to look at force protection all day, every day and as it stands now we assess the operations can continue,” Cooper said.

Social media images showed a US air defense system, known as the Counter Rockets, Artillery and Mortars (CRAM), firing into the sky while on the pier. US officials said troops were testing the system.

Daniel Dieckhaus of the US Agency for International Development said that since the pier opened last week, about 506 metric tons of aid had been handed off to humanitarian groups inside Gaza. About a third of that has not yet been distributed but would be soon, he said.


Medic says Gaza hospital under Israeli siege for fifth day

Medic says Gaza hospital under Israeli siege for fifth day
Updated 23 May 2024
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Medic says Gaza hospital under Israeli siege for fifth day

Medic says Gaza hospital under Israeli siege for fifth day

GAZA STRIP: A senior official at Al-Awda Hospital in northern Gaza said it was under Israeli military siege for a fifth straight day on Thursday after soldiers stormed it the previous day.

“We are still under siege for the fifth day in a row,” said the hospital’s acting director, Dr. Mohammed Saleh.

“Soldiers are present in the hospital’s courtyard and nearby houses,” he said, adding that there was “continuous gunfire and shelling” toward it.

Troops stormed the hospital building on Wednesday evening, he said.

“The hospital was stormed, and staff were forced to leave. I currently have only 13 staff, 11 patients, and two women accompanying wounded children,” Saleh said.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on social media platform X that 140 staff, patients, and accompanying adults were inside the hospital when troops stormed it.

The WHO visited Al-Awda regularly in April to deliver medical supplies and fuel, but on Tuesday Ghebreyesus said snipers were targeting the building and artillery had hit the fifth floor.

On Tuesday, patients and staff were also evacuated from another hospital in northern Gaza, Kamal Adwan, its director, Dr. Hossam Abu Safia, said at the time.

“These are the only two functional hospitals remaining in northern Gaza. Ensuring their ability to deliver health services is imperative,” Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.

Israeli troops have previously raided other medical facilities in Gaza, including Al-Shifa in Gaza City, the territory’s largest hospital, which was reduced to rubble after an operation in March, the WHO said.


Bahrain’s King Hamad says he is looking forward to improved relations with Iran

Russian President Vladimir receives Bahrain's King Hamad at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, May 23, 2024. (BNA)
Russian President Vladimir receives Bahrain's King Hamad at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, May 23, 2024. (BNA)
Updated 23 May 2024
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Bahrain’s King Hamad says he is looking forward to improved relations with Iran

Russian President Vladimir receives Bahrain's King Hamad at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, May 23, 2024. (BNA)
  • King meets Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin 

RIYADH: Bahrain’s King Hamad said his country was looking forward to improving its relations with Iran during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin.
The king added that there was no reason for Bahrain to postpone the resumption of diplomatic relations with Iran, the Bahrain News Agency reported on Thursday.
The king and Putin discussed the war in Gaza, regional and international efforts aimed at reaching a ceasefire, and the release of hostages and detainees. They also focused on providing humanitarian aid without obstacles to the territory’s civilian population.
They highlighted the importance of advancing the course of diplomatic action to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and achieving a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The leaders also said efforts to recognize the Palestinian state and accept it as a permanent member of the UN should be supported.
They also stressed the importance of the UN Security Council assuming its responsibilities toward resolving and ending global conflicts, and working to settle them in accordance with the rules of international law and the UN Charter to maintain international peace and security.
The king informed the Russian president of the outcomes of the Arab Summit held recently in Bahrain, adding that Arab countries appreciated Russia’s sympathy for just Arab causes.
The king and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for the convening of an international conference at the summit, which would take place under the auspices of the UN, to resolve the Palestinian issue on the basis of a two-state solution.
The king added that he hoped to host the conference and requested Russia’s support for it.


Arab Parliament welcomes move to recognize Palestinian state

Arab Parliament welcomes move to recognize Palestinian state
Updated 23 May 2024
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Arab Parliament welcomes move to recognize Palestinian state

Arab Parliament welcomes move to recognize Palestinian state
  • The parliament described the move as a victory for justice and the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state
  • Growing international recognition of a Palestinian state represented a practical response to Israel’s plans to “liquidate the Palestinian cause, which will not succeed”

CAIRO: The Arab Parliament has welcomed a decision by the governments of Spain, Norway and Ireland to recognize the state of Palestine.
The prime ministers of the three countries said on Wednesday that they would formally recognize Palestine as a state on May 28.
All three said they hoped the decision would accelerate efforts toward securing a ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, now in its eighth month.
The parliament described the move as a victory for justice and the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state.
It said the decision was a “new victory for the Palestinian cause and Palestinian diplomacy,” and an important step toward recognition by many countries worldwide.
The parliament said the recognition supported the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, foremost of which is the establishment of an independent state with the city of Jerusalem as its capital.
It said that the announcements come at a time when Israel is working to destroy the Palestinian cause through “ethnic cleansing and forced displacement against civilians, including children, women, and the elderly, against whom war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed.”
Growing international recognition of a Palestinian state represented a practical response to Israel’s plans to “liquidate the Palestinian cause, which will not succeed,” it added.
The parliament called on countries that have not yet recognized the state of Palestine to take a step toward “ending the historical injustice to which the Palestinian people have been exposed for decades of occupation and per the internationally recognized two-state solution based on international legitimacy resolutions.”
It called on the international community and all countries to stand with the Palestinian people and their just cause.
Ireland has said it will upgrade its representative office in the West Bank to a full embassy, while the Palestinian mission in Ireland will also be offered full embassy status.