Death by Bombs or Death by Starvation: 100 Days of War in Gaza

Jan. 15, 2024

Majed and his family were forced to flee south when their house was damaged by heavy bombardment.
As we reach the horrific milestone of 100 days of war in Gaza, our CEO Rob Williams addresses the unthinkable reality facing thousands of children: death by bombs or death by starvation.

“It has been 100 days since the escalation of violence in Israel and Gaza began on 7 October. For many weeks aid agencies, including War Child, have been warning that the bombing of Gaza and the restriction of humanitarian aid flows would lead to mass starvation. Over recent weeks, credible evidence has emerged that this is now happening.

Over half a million children, who have no part in this conflict, are at grave risk of starving to death. An estimated 335,000 of the youngest children – those under school age – are at severe risk of malnutrition. On the political level, the rights or wrongs of the conflict remain a matter of fierce debate. I hope, however, that there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the preventable death by starvation of children should not be allowed to happen.

No home, no food, no family

Starvation is of course not the only fate children in Gaza are faced with. Over 900,000 have been forced from their homes under threat of violence. Many are left to fend for themselves: the chilling new acronym, WCNSF – ‘wounded child, no surviving family’ – has become common terminology among aid workers.

Half of all children under five have diarrhoea, due to the lack of clean water and sanitation within the overcrowded tents and shelters they now live in. Over 1,000 children – 10 a day – have lost at least one leg, with many having been amputated without anaesthetic. Besides the physical impact, the psychological effects of these events are acute and long-lasting.

Yet the healthcare system is on its knees – only a quarter of Gaza’s hospitals remain operational, and these are on the brink of collapse.

These horrific statistics are growing so huge, many of us are struggling to compute the sheer scale of the tragedy. Perhaps worst of all, around 10,000 children have been killed by Israeli airstrikes over the last 100 days. That’s a primary school full of children killed every three days. With hundreds still trapped under the rubble as bombs continue to fall, the total could be even worse.

This has to stop

We want to make clear that what is happening in Gaza is unprecedented. The rate at which innocent children are being killed and maimed by high explosives being deployed in densely populated areas has not been seen in modern times. The government of Israel has a responsibility to protect children in Gaza. It is the view of many highly qualified observers that Israeli armed forces are failing to do this. Volker Turk, the United Nation High Commissioner for Human Rights has declared that war crimes are being committed by Hamas and the state of Israel.

To protect over a million children in Gaza it is imperative that all parties negotiate an immediate ceasefire. All hostages should be released immediately. All restrictions on the flow of aid into Gaza should be removed immediately. Any government with relations with the state of Israel or Hamas has a responsibility to do everything they can to achieve these three outcomes.

The fact that children are now starving should mark the point where the protection of civilian life becomes the top priority for everyone who has any influence over what happens next in Gaza.”