War-Orphaned Gazan Children: Injured, Hungry, and Alone


Born amidst the war in Gaza, a month-old baby girl lies in an incubator at the al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza. She was delivered via Caesarean section after her mother, Hanna, was killed in an Israeli air strike. The baby’s family has not been located, reflecting the chaos and devastation caused by the ongoing conflict.

Children make up nearly half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million and have been severely affected by the war. Despite Israel’s claims of striving to avoid civilian casualties, Palestinian health officials report that over 11,500 children have been killed. Furthermore, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor reports that over 24,000 children have lost one or both parents.

The war has left many children injured, orphaned, and traumatized. Ten-year-old Ibrahim Abu Mouss suffered severe injuries when a missile hit his home, killing his mother, grandfather, and sister. The Hussein family children mourn their parents, killed in a missile strike. Abed Hussein, who lived in al-Bureij refugee camp, stays awake at night, terrified by the sounds of shelling and missing his deceased parents.

The UN’s children’s agency, Unicef, is particularly concerned for an estimated 19,000 children who are orphaned or alone with no adult care. Many of these children have been found under rubble or have lost their parents in bombings. Identifying them and potentially reuniting them with extended family members can be extremely challenging.

Local non-profit organization SOS Children’s Villages has taken in 55 such children under the age of 10 since the war started. The organization has hired additional staff in Rafah to provide psychological support. Unicef reports that nearly all children in Gaza now require mental health support due to the trauma they have experienced. Even if a lasting ceasefire is achieved, many will be left grappling with the devastating losses they have suffered.

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