More than 15,000 children killed in Gaza since October, says Education Ministry

Oxfam warns that famine is inching close after May study showed 85% of children did not eat for a whole day at least once in the three days before the survey was conducted

Young Palestinian children fill plastic containers with water on the grounds of a partially destroyed school being used as a shelter in Jabalia refugee camp. AFP
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Palestinian children are the biggest victims of the eight-month war in Gaza, with more than 15,000 killed since October, the enclave's Education Ministry has said.

Most of the dead were of nursery and primary school age, the ministry said on Tuesday as it marked the International Day of Innocent Child Victims of Aggression.

About 620,000 pupils have been prevented from going to school since October, with 88,000 university students unable to attend classes.

Israel's destruction of the Palestinian enclave has left Gazans with no functioning universities. Recent images of a soldier standing in front of burning books inside a university library have fuelled widespread anger.

At least 36,479 Palestinians have been killed and 82,777 wounded since the war in Gaza began on October 7, according to figures from Gaza's Health Ministry.

Thousands more are missing, presumed dead under the rubble of buildings across the enclave, where the UN says more than half of buildings have been damaged or destroyed.

At least seven people were killed in Deir Al Balah on Tuesday morning as Israeli missiles struck a group at the entrance to a shelter for hundreds of displaced people, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported, hours after three people were killed in a raid on Gaza city.

Aid groups have warned that surviving children are at dire risk of starvation.

On Monday, Oxfam said famine “inches closer”, citing a May survey that found 85 per cent of children did not eat for a whole day at least once in the three days before the study was conducted.

Despite Israeli assurances that full support will be provided for people fleeing, most of Gaza has been deprived of humanitarian aid, it said.

“By the time a famine is declared, it will be too late. When hunger claims many more lives, nobody will be able to deny the horrifying impact of Israel's deliberate, illegal and cruel obstruction of aid,” said Sally Abi Khalil, Oxfam's Mena director.

Pictures of emaciated children continue to circulate, with at least two children, including a baby, reported to have starved to death in recent days.

The Israeli army killed five Palestinians in the occupied West Bank overnight as Gaza city also came under attack.

Three people were shot dead in Nablus during raids in the eastern part of the city, near Balata refugee camp, Wafa reported.

Local media reported that one of the victims Adam Farraj was killed as he prepared for his sister's wedding.

Video on social media purportedly showed soldiers dragging the body of Mr Farraj, a member of Al Aqsa militant group.

Two others were killed in Tulkarm near a military checkpoint, Wafa added, and ambulances were prevented from reaching the scene.

The army claimed the two were armed and prepared to carry out an attack, publishing an image of weapons.

Both cities, and their refugee camps, have been subjected to regular army raids over the past year.

Heavy shelling was also reported across Gaza city's southern districts, with several women and children wounded in Al Sabra and Al Zeitoun neighbourhoods.

It came hours after three people were killed and others wounded in a strike on a home in Bureij refugee camp.

Israeli quadcopters also opened fire near Al Awda Hospital in Nuseirat refugee camp, Wafa reported.

Two thirds of Gaza's population are crammed into a fifth of its territory, Oxfam added on Monday.

More than one million people are estimated to have fled the southern border city of Rafah in recent weeks during an Israeli offensive on the city, with the army also capturing the Rafah crossing connecting the enclave to Egypt.

Updated: June 04, 2024, 9:12 AM