Israel’s war on Gaza has grown so severe that, in conversation with the spokesman for the United Nation’s children’s agency UNICEF James Elder, teenagers said they were “so desperate for this nightmare to end that they hoped to be killed,” he said on March 26th, according to the Arab News and agencies.

“The unspeakable is regularly said in Gaza,” Elder added. He told journalists in Geneva via video call from Rafah that he had spoken to the adolescents on March 25th. 

Israel’s retaliatory campaign against Hamas has killed at least 32,333 people in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. A majority of this death toll consists of women and children, who have disproportionately suffered the most.

On March 8th, the Associated Press (AP) reported that 20 children had died at Al-Shifa and Kawal Adman hospitals — their cause of death being malnutrition and dehydration. They also highlighted the unusually high death toll of premature babies in Rafah, most of them perishing for the same reason. 

READ: Israel Supreme Court halts Palestinian patients’ return to Gaza

The UN and World Bank have repeatedly warned of a looming famine encroaching on Gaza’s population, spurring increasingly urgent appeals for Israel to open up more border crossings to allow for the movement of aid.

“[The Israelis] have a right to control,” explained Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Humanitarian agency. “They inspect every single gram, litre, kilo of whatever goes into Gaza.” 

“We need to dispel this notion that their obligation with getting aid in, somehow stops with getting a few trucks, a fraction of what is needed, across the border,” he added. “That is not correct.”

Elder also pointed out that Israel has denied a quarter of the 40 mission requests to the northern enclave since the beginning of the month. He condemned the fact that the Erez Crossing — having the potential to provide aid to nearby starving Gazans — remains idle. 

READ: Armed men escorting aid convoys in Gaza

“Open that, and we could turn this humanitarian crisis around in a matter of days,” said Elder, “but it remains closed.”

Gaza’s cut off from aid and supplies has severely impacted women, who have consistently struggled to obtain feminine hygiene products since the start of the war. Furthermore, Gaza is now considered to be one of the most dangerous places for women, with an average of seven deaths every two hours.

On March 6th, a 17-year-old Gaza resident cried out, “is my leg gone?” following an Israeli airstrike. It is estimated that ten children lose one or both legs on a daily basis.

“Let’s be clear,” said Elder, “life-saving aid is being obstructed, lives are being lost, dignity is being denied.”

The Arab News and agencies

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