Press Release

Pain and suffering engulfs children in the State of Palestine & Israel

This is a summary of what was said by UNICEF Spokesperson James Elder — to whom quoted text may be attributed — at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva 

NEW YORK (October 10, 2023) –  “The ongoing surge of conflict-related violence continues to take a horrendous toll on the lives of children and their families in Israel and the State of Palestine. Nothing justifies the killing, maiming or abduction of children. Any delay in bringing an end to the conflict will inevitably result in more devastating consequences for children.

“According to reports, hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian children have been killed and many more injured in the last 72 hours. The killing and maiming of children is a grave violation and willful killing is a serious breach of International Humanitarian Law. We call on all parties not to target children and take all necessary measures to ensure their protection during hostilities. 

“In addition, there are reports of the abduction of Israeli children to the Gaza Strip. The abduction of children by any party to the conflict constitutes a grave violation and hostage-taking is prohibited by International Humanitarian Law in all circumstances. UNICEF calls for the immediate and safe release of all hostages.

“As of yesterday, according to UNRWA, there are more than 187,000 newly displaced people in Gaza, many of the sheltering at UNRWA schools, and many of them children. Some of the facilities sheltering displaced families in Gaza, including schools, have sustained damages. 

“Hundreds of thousands of children are affected by the escalation of hostilities in Gaza and are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and protection. Before this renewed violence, 1.1 million children were already in need of humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank – accounting for approximately half the child population. 

“We are extremely alarmed about measures to cut electricity food, water and fuel from entering Gaza. This will add another layer of suffering to the existing catastrophe faced by families in Gaza. Depriving children of access to food and essential services puts their lives at risk, as do attacks on civilian areas and infrastructure – including health centers, schools and water and sanitation systems. It is imperative that all parties refrain from further violence and attacks on civilian infrastructure, including schools, health centers and shelters.

“In the Gaza Strip, UNICEF and its partners are on the ground delivering immediate humanitarian support, including medical supplies, fuel as well as mental health and psychosocial support. With the humanitarian situation rapidly deteriorating, humanitarian actors must be able to safely access children and their families with lifesaving services and supplies – wherever they may be.

“UNICEF is calling for immediate cessation of hostilities and reminding parties of their obligations under International Humanitarian law to afford special protection to children.  Every single child, no matter who or where they are, must be protected.”


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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to pursue a more equitable world for every child. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more.

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For more information please contact:
Jenna Buraczenski, UNICEF USA, (917) 720-1432,