Save the Children Statement on Escalation of Violence in Israel and Gaza

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (May 5, 2019) — Following an escalation of violence in Israel and Gaza, Save the Children and its partners have temporarily suspended education and other programs in the Gaza Strip, with only essential services like health now remaining operational. Staff and children have been instructed to stay at home and indoors.

Save the Children has received reports that at least 150 homes in Gaza have been destroyed or severely damaged. We are also aware of numerous reports of damage to infrastructure in Israel.

Maher Abdullah, Senior Education Program Officer for Save the Children in Gaza, said:

“We’re all beyond terrified right now. I have four children and none of us could sleep last night. My wife and I took them into our bed and hugged them, but every time a bomb landed they kept screaming. When they were little, I used to tell them it was just thunder, but they don’t believe me anymore. They ask me why people are trying to kill them. I don’t know what to say.

“Today we’re all at home, our house is shaking as bombs land nearby. I’m trying to keep the children busy to distract them. But we don’t know where the bombs are going to hit or when. We can’t even go outside to get food. As a father, it’s heart breaking. I feel like my family is a sitting target, with no way to escape. We’re trying to keep children safe in Gaza – but there’s nothing we can do but pray.”

Jeremy Stoner, Middle East Regional Director for Save the Children, said:

"Save the Children is deeply alarmed by reports of rapidly rising casualties from this violence on both sides, including a pregnant woman killed with her one-year old niece in Gaza. The circumstances of these deaths are not yet known.

“The continued impact of this escalation on the lives and mental health of children in both Southern Israel and the Gaza Strip cannot be overestimated. Children in Gaza are already on the brink of a mental health crisis due to a long-lasting blockade and recurrent conflict.

“The humanitarian community believes we may have entered the most serious stage in this crisis since the 2014 Gaza War. We echo the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process’s call on all parties to immediately de-escalate the situation.”

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