2023 ‘deadliest year on record’ for children in the West Bank: UNICEF

2023 ‘deadliest year on record’ for children in the West Bank: UNICEF

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UNICEF deemed 2023 the “deadliest year on record” for children in the West Bank, with 130 conflict-related deaths.

“This year has been the deadliest year on record for children in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, with conflict-related violence reaching unprecedented levels,” UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Adele Khodr wrote in a statement released Thursday.

Khodr said children in the West Bank have experienced “grinding violence” for years, but the recent intensity has dramatically increased since the onset of war between Israel and Hamas.

UNICEF reported that conflict-related violence has killed 124 Palestinian children and six Israeli children in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the start of 2023.

UNICEF said a majority of the deaths this year — 83 — happened in the weeks since Oct. 7, when Hamas launched a surprise attack in Israel that killed 1,200 Israelis and prompted a deadly counteroffensive from the Israeli military.

More than 576 children have been injured, and others have reportedly been detained, Khodr said in the statement.

“As the world watches on in horror at the situation in the Gaza Strip, children in the West Bank are experiencing a nightmare of their own. Living with a near-constant feeling of fear and grief is, sadly, all-too-common for children affected,” she said, adding that UNICEF is extremely concerned about the children’s right to life and safety.

In the statement, UNICEF urged parties involved to abide by international human rights laws and protect children from conflict-related violence.

“The suffering of children in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, must not fade into the background of the current conflict — it is part of it,” Khodr concluded.

The UNICEF report came on the same day the United Nations released a report that details the “rapidly deteriorating human rights situation” in the West Bank.

The U.N. found that there were 279 Palestinian deaths in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, by the Israel Security Forces since Oct. 7.

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