Statement: 3 months on, time is running out for children in Gaza 

5 January 2024

With the 3 month mark of the horrific escalation of conflict in Gaza and Israel approaching, which has brought unconscionable suffering to children and all civilians, Plan International once again calls on all parties involved for a lasting ceasefire.  

In just 91 days, 22,438 people have been killed in Gaza, including at least 8,000 children according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Over 57,614 people have been injured and 1.9 million people have been forced to flee their homes. In the West Bank, Israeli soldiers or settlers have killed 314 people, including 80 children, since October 7. The UN has renewed its warnings that Gaza is “grappling with catastrophic hunger” and 40% of its population are now at “risk of famine”. 123 hostages taken by Palestinian armed groups remain unaccounted for, and Palestinian armed groups killed 1,139 people in Israel, including 39 children.  

These statistics are harrowing. Time is running out fast for children in Gaza. Together with peer humanitarian and human rights organisations, governments and ordinary people around the world, we demand an unconditional, immediate, sustained and complete ceasefire and improved humanitarian access. 

Nowhere safe for children

The situation in Gaza is horrifying – there is nowhere safe for children. The blatant and constant targeting of schools, hospitals and refugee camps, which should always be a place of safety, is a violation of International Humanitarian Law. Just yesterday, Israeli airstrikes near Al-Mawasi, a designated “humanitarian zone” by Israeli authorities (to which Israeli forces ordered civilians to evacuate for their safety) reportedly killed 14 people, the majority of them children under 10 years old. Humanitarian workers and relief supplies are severely restricted and constant and indiscriminate bombing has taken a heavy toll on hundreds of thousands of children and pregnant women. 

Supporting partners in Gaza

Plan International is scaling up support to partners in Gaza and neighbouring countries, and is ready to provide life-saving humanitarian aid to children. But humanitarians cannot truly address the dire needs of civilians without the full, expedited, and unhindered entry of humanitarian aid at all access points and very importantly, the cessation of the airstrikes and fighting. 

We continue to call, as we have from day one, for the immediate release of all civilian hostages and for access to them. Children should never be held as a hostage or prisoner. We also demand an immediate end to the forced displacement of Palestinian civilians, in Gaza and West Bank, and for International Humanitarian Law to be upheld at all times. The horror, suffering, and trauma children are facing right now is indescribable – they need food, water, medical assistance and a place of safety more urgently than ever before.  

Palestinian children, like all children everywhere, have the right to a life free from war, violence and fear, and it is our collective responsibility to urge parties involved in the conflict and the international community to protect that right. No party to conflict has the right to flagrantly disregard international law. Protection of children and all civilians is non-negotiable. The killing needs to end. A ceasefire is desperately needed, now.