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Israel-Hams conflict: ‘Nobel’ call to “protect children from war zone”

ANM Bureau

Almost three weeks down, still there seems no sign of end to war between Hamas and Israel which has left thousands dead on both sides and hald of these dead are the children.

1400 people perished on October 7 unannounced attack by Hamas on Israel after which the world has no respite from the gory scenes of civilians dying specially the children The health ministry in Gaza, which is governed by Hamas, has said at least 5,791 Palestinians, including 2,360 children, have been killed in the Israeli assault.After almost three weeks of Hamas attack on Israel there has been no let down in the number of casualties on both sides.

In the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, the toll on children has been devastating, with one child losing their life every 15 minutes, according to a Palestinian NGO. More than 100 children have tragically perished each day since the conflict escalated when both sides initiated bombings each other territories starting October 7.

Numerous Israeli and Palestinian children have been killed and many more injured since the onset of the Israel-Palestine war. Israel released photos of babies allegedly murdered and burnt by Hamas after it infiltrated the country on October 7. While as per a report in total, over 3,400 Palestinians have lost their lives in what is being described as the deadliest Israeli assault in decades.

This alarming situation has led 29 Nobel laureates, including renowned child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, to make a heartfelt plea for the urgent release of children caught in the crossfire of this brutal conflict. These laureates have demanded a safe passage for these children away from the war zone, emphasizing that the children on both sides of the divide are, in essence, “our children.”

Tragically, not only have Palestinian children suffered, but at least 14 children were reported to be among the 1,400 Israeli victims of the deadly Hamas attack on October 7. Additionally, about 200 individuals, including children, have been taken captive by Hamas. However, it’s worth noting that Israel has not provided detailed data on the demographics of those who lost their lives in the same attack.

One might wonder if international law protects children in times of war. The answer is unequivocally yes. The rules of armed conflict, as established by the Geneva Conventions in 1949, clearly stipulate that children must be protected and treated humanely. It is a moral and legal obligation to shield children from the horrors of war. Israel itself ratified these conventions in 1951, and it’s crucial to remember the historical context – the Holocaust – which should have underscored the importance of such protections.

However, a critical issue arises when it comes to the application of these conventions in the Israel-Hamas conflict. Israel refuses to recognize the 4th Geneva Convention, which specifically safeguards civilians during an occupation. The reasoning behind this refusal is Israel’s claim that Palestine is not under occupation. This contentious stance has significant implications, especially in terms of accountability for civilian casualties, including children.

The Israeli military’s use of disproportionate force in Gaza is being framed as a legitimate means to eradicate Hamas. In this perspective, civilian casualties, including children, are not classified as war crimes, according to Israeli authorities.

The children of Gaza have lived through profound suffering since birth, facing a partial Israeli blockade, poverty, and violence. With the recent escalation of the Israeli offensive and the imposition of a total blockade following rocket and ground attacks by Hamas, their plight is only set to worsen.

Research has shown that children who survive wars do not emerge unscathed. They often bear the scars psychologically, emotionally, and behaviorally. In fact, a staggering 95 percent of children from the Gaza Strip exhibit symptoms of anxiety, depression, and trauma. The military actions have disrupted their education, leading to limited access to essential school supplies. As if these challenges weren’t daunting enough, Gaza grapples with a 47 percent unemployment rate, creating a bleak future for these children.

An Urgent Plea for Humanity

In a joint statement, the 29 Nobel laureates expressed deep shock and sorrow at the loss of children during the Hamas attack and the subsequent widespread bombing by Israel. They issued a stark warning, highlighting the grave risk of even more lives being lost in the weeks to come, affecting children in other regions as well. The laureates emphasized that Palestinian children are, without a doubt, “our children,” and this statement holds true for Israeli children as well. They implored that all kidnapped children must be released urgently and provided a safe passage away from the conflict zone.

The urgency of providing humanitarian aid to children and vulnerable individuals was also stressed in the statement. These innocent lives must receive essential necessities such as water, food, healthcare, and shelter immediately. The Nobel laureates reminded us that the lives of one million children in the Gaza Strip and three million children in Israel must be a priority for the world. They called for a unified approach, underlining that there’s room in our hearts to care for all children, regardless of their background.

In a symbolic act of unity and hope, the laureates announced their plan to light three candles. One candle would represent all the children killed and kidnapped in Israel, another for the children affected by the bombings and fighting in Gaza, and the third would symbolize humanity and hope. They extended an invitation to anyone who supports lasting peace for all children, not only in Israel and Palestine but across the globe, to join them in this act of solidarity.

This impassioned plea comes from Nobel laureates across various fields, demonstrating that the call for the protection and well-being of children transcends political boundaries. Among the notable signatories are José Manuel Ramos-Horta, the 1996 Nobel Peace Laureate, Oscar Arias, the 1987 Nobel Peace Laureate, Yuan Lee, the 1986 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Eric Maskin, the 2007 Nobel Laureate in Economics, and Steven Chu, the 1997 Nobel Laureate in Physics, among others.

As the world watches the tragedy unfold in the Israel-Hamas conflict, the voices of Nobel laureates resound as a reminder of our shared responsibility to protect and nurture the most vulnerable among us – the children. The urgent demand for the release and safety of these innocent lives is a call for humanity and compassion in a time of great turmoil and suffering.

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