Statement: Suffering and killing in Gaza must stop now

5 December 2023

After a pause in fighting for just one week, Plan International is devastated by the resumption of violence in Gaza over the weekend and the shocking number of civilians and children being killed in a matter of days.

Following the week-long pause and the release of 110 hostages from Gaza and 240 Palestinian prisoners, hopes held out by humanitarian agencies of a permanent and lasting ceasefire were crushed when Israel’s bombardments across the Gaza Strip resumed on Friday 1 December.

More than 500 civilians – including children – have been killed since bombing resumed, according to the Palestinian health ministry, as of Monday 4 December. Of those killed, 70% been women and children. The UN says more than 1.9 million people in Gaza are now displaced from their homes.

This sudden escalation of violence reverses the limited gains made in terms of humanitarian assistance during the pause. The devastating number of deaths, total destruction of health facilities and lack of basic sanitation and clean water, and other lifesaving and life-sustaining infrastructure and materials bring a grave risk of more children dying of disease and starvation. Sustained bombing is causing emotional distress and trauma amongst children that no words can truly explain.

With Israel expanding its ground military operations in the south of the Gaza Strip on Sunday, millions of people who had previously fled from the north have been left with nowhere to go. The health system in Gaza has now collapsed and UNICEF staff have described the few hospitals that remain in operation as “warzones”.

There is never any justification for the killing or maiming of children. In war and conflict, children are always innocent and must not be targeted. The horror and trauma children are facing in Gaza right now is indescribable and unconscionable.

While limited humanitarian assistance is being provided, the intensifying violence makes the situation in Gaza immensely dangerous for humanitarians and civilians alike.

Plan International is closely monitoring the situation in Gaza and is preparing to scale up operations through our offices in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon and through local partners. Plan International Egypt are supporting the Egyptian Red Crescent to deliver supplies including food and first aid kits via the Rafah crossing, while Plan International Jordan have signed an MoU with Terre Des Hommes to support their work in Gaza. In the south of Lebanon, where cross-border tensions have led to widespread internal displacement, Plan International Lebanon are providing a range of support to displaced children and their families including non-food items, food, and household hygiene kits.

With the two-month mark of this terrible escalation of violence approaching, Plan International continues to call on all parties involved for an unconditional, immediate, sustained and complete ceasefire and improved humanitarian access. We also call for the release of all civilian hostages and Palestinian children held as prisoners.