Through the eyes of a Palestinian child, the scars of war in Gaza aren’t just physical
Children are suffering from the devastating consequences of escalating Israeli violence in the Gaza Strip, with entire families lost in single airstrikes and severe physical injuries likely to require long-term medical treatment.
UNICEF estimates that 121 children have been killed since Israel's assault began on July 8, with the death toll in Gaza now standing at over 500 Palestinians.
In the past 24 hours, 28 children were killed - among them 20 in Gaza City's besieged Shujaiyeh neighborhood alone.
Over 80 of those killed are 12 or younger. An estimated one-third of all civilian casualties are children, UNICEF says.
"This is the highest number (of child deaths) since Operation Cast Lead. It is a huge toll, and rising, and more worryingly, 76 children were killed in the past three days," Ivan Karakashian, from Defense for Children International - Palestine Section, told Ma'an.
On July 16, four children aged nine to 11, were killed by Israeli military shelling while playing on a beach in Gaza City, one of the territory's few open and free spaces accessible for children and adults alike.
Days later, three children aged seven to 10 were killed while feeding ducks on the roof of their Gaza City home.
On Monday, five members of the al-Yaziji family, nine members of the al-Qassas family, 11 members of the Siyam family at least 26 members of the Abu Jami family were killed in Israeli airstrikes.
"There is no safe place for children at this moment, no safe havens to escape to. Israel says it is carrying out targeted operations, precision strikes, but it is very difficult to see that when you look at the mounting casualties of women and children," Karakashian says.
With over half of Gaza's population under 18, children have the highest likelihood of being killed by Israeli military attacks.
Karakashian says nearly all children in Gaza are in a state of "shock and horror," barely able to process the psychological trauma they have witnessed.
"One day children have a large family and the next day they are orphans. The practical implications of this will affect them forever. Children grow up in a environment where they realize they have no security in their own homes. Even their bedrooms are not safe anymore."
By Charlie Hoyle