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Women and Children: Main Victims of Israel-Hamas War

Updated: Feb 16

The Israel-Gaza war has taken an alarming toll on the most vulnerable members of society, with women and children emerging as the primary victims, according to a recent UN report. The report reveals a staggering death toll of 16,000, with an estimated two mothers losing their lives every hour since the surprise attack by Hamas on Israel.


UN Women's executive director, Sima Bahous, expressed deep concern over the impact on women and children, characterizing the situation as a "cruel inversion" of the previous 15 years' conflict dynamics. Before the October 7 attack by Hamas, the majority of civilian casualties were men, but the current conflict has seen a drastic shift, with 70% of the 25,000 Palestinians killed being women and children.


The report highlights the grim consequences of the 100-day conflict, noting that at least 3,000 women have potentially become widows and heads of households, while 10,000 children may have lost their fathers. Gender inequality is exacerbating the suffering, with women bearing the burden of fleeing the fighting with children, repeatedly facing displacement.


Of Gaza's 2.3 million population, 1.9 million are displaced, and nearly one million are women and girls seeking shelter and safety. The dire situation has prompted calls for a humanitarian ceasefire and the immediate release of hostages taken captive on October 7, echoing the appeals made by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.


Bahous emphasized the urgent need for unrestricted humanitarian assistance, an end to the destruction and killing, and an overall end to the war. The women and girls of Gaza are facing deprivation of safety, medicine, healthcare, shelter, and are on the brink of starvation and famine. Most importantly, they are deprived of hope and justice, Bahous stated.


The report also addresses the issue of sexual violence during the attacks by Hamas, with UN Women calling for accountability, justice, and support for all those affected. Despite the escalating hostilities, women-led and women's rights organizations in Gaza continue to operate, focusing primarily on emergency response efforts.


However, the report reveals a significant gap in funding for women's rights organizations, with only 0.09% of last year's flash appeal for Gaza directly allocated to national or local women's rights organizations. Bahous stressed the critical need for more aid to reach Gaza, especially for women and children, and a resounding call for an end to the devastating war.


"This is a time for peace," Bahous urged. "We owe this to all Israeli and Palestinian women and girls. This is not their conflict. They must no longer pay its price." As the international community grapples with the severity of the situation, the need for immediate and decisive action to end the suffering for women and children is more apparent than ever.


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