The plight of Palestinian children, including infants, post-traumatic stress, and orphaned children, calls for urgent international attention
By Syed Ahmed Ali
The barbarism inflicted by Israel on Palestine has a long history spanning 75 years. Throughout this time, generations have been fighting for their land, their rights, their lives, and most importantly, for the future of their children and for the protection of the sanctity of Masjid Al Aqsa.
John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, once said, ‘Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.’ These valuable resources, ‘children,’ will determine the nation’s future. Sadly, these children are targeted and killed in Palestine by the Israeli forces. It is time to stand in support of Palestinian children and to hold the hand of the oppressor, Israel.
To comprehend the psychological and mental health challenges faced by the children of Palestine, we engage in a dialogue with Clinical Psychologist Mariya Umam Asgar Khan from Hyderabad, Telangana, and Practicing Intern Doctor Atika at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College (JNMC), AMU, Aligarh.
Mariya Umam Asgar Khan
Clinical Psychologist, Hyderabad, Telangana
The lives of Palestinian children have been profoundly affected by Israeli barbarism for more than 75 years, leading to a grave impact on their mental and emotional well-being. Growing up in an environment of constant fear and instability, witnessing violence, and experiencing loss are leaving long-term psychological scars on the minds of Palestinian children. As a result, most Palestinian children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, hindering their development and future prospects.
In the context of Infant Protection Day, there is an emphasis on the need for international efforts to safeguard the rights and well-being of Palestinian children. The challenges faced by Palestinian children should be addressed, along with providing them with mental health support, education, and psychosocial support, as well as the protection of infants and children’s lives in every way.
According to recent reports by the WHO, more than 4,237 Palestinian children in Gaza have been killed since October 7. Many of them were infants and toddlers, and some were premature babies. The barbarism committed by Israel has gravely affected the mental well-being and lives of Palestinian children, particularly those residing in Gaza.
Children injured and affected by Israeli forces must receive immediate treatment and safety. Children who have lost their parents must be safeguarded by admitting them to caring and nurturing camps and schools.
Organizations that work for infant protection and stand for humanity and human rights must raise their voices for these voiceless children and stand with them.
Targeting children in war is inhuman, and the International Court of Justice (ICC) must take stern action against Israel for its inhuman approach.
All countries must question this inhuman approach and boycott businesses until Israel restores peace in Palestine and safeguards the future of Palestine and its generations. It is the responsibility of international law, all countries, and humanity, as well as civil society organizations.
Intern Doctor at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College (JNMC), AMU, Aligarh
World Infant Protection Day, observed on Nov. 7, serves as a stark reminder to safeguard the rights and well-being of children globally. Amidst the Israeli violence, heightened concerns arise regarding the vulnerability of Palestinian children, especially infants. They face ongoing challenges, including fatality, violence-induced trauma, and the plight of orphaned children. It is crucial to internalize that half of the population in Gaza, the focal point of bombings and missile strikes, comprises children. This day urges collective action to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable members of society, emphasizing the importance of addressing the specific challenges faced by children, particularly in war-torn zones like Palestine.
Even during the relatively stable period leading up to October 7, 2023, reports from multiple international human rights organizations, including UNICEF, highlighted incidents involving the apprehension, confinement, and ill-treatment of Palestinian minors by Israeli authorities. These accusations encompass actions such as the application of physical force, placement in solitary confinement, and the deprivation of legal representation, constituting apparent breaches of international human rights norms.
Furthermore, concerns persist about the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the mental and emotional well-being of Palestinian children. Growing up in a conflict zone can have a profound and lasting impact on a child’s development, including increased stress, trauma, and the disruption of education and normal childhood experiences.
In the most recent escalation of conflict, the Israeli attack on Palestine has led to a disturbing number of casualties among Palestinian children, including infants. Children have become victims, with many being killed or severely injured due to airstrikes, clashes, and other forms of violence. The recorded number of deaths has surpassed four thousand, and the international community appears to have turned a blind eye.
This conflict has also profoundly impacted the mental and emotional well-being of surviving Palestinian children, who have had to experience firsthand the horrors of war, including the loss of family members, homes, and communities. These traumatic experiences can lead to severe post-traumatic stress, affecting their psychological development and overall well-being. The online circulation of images and videos showing children trembling in fear and shock is enough to deeply unsettle the core of any person. The scars of war and violence can last a lifetime, often necessitating extensive support and mental health services for children to recover.
Tragically, this genocide has left numerous children orphaned, as they have lost their parents or caregivers due to violence and conflict-related incidents. Orphaned children endure profound hardships, grappling with the absence of emotional support and stability. Extended family members or orphanages often shoulder the responsibility of caring for them, posing additional risks to their emotional and psychological well-being.
The plight of Palestinian children, including infants, post-traumatic stress, and orphaned children, calls for urgent international attention. Human rights organizations and advocacy groups need to be more proactive, calling for an end to the violence in the region, a ceasefire emphasizing the need to resolve the conflict peacefully, and ensuring the protection of children’s rights, safety, security, and well-being regardless of their nationality or background.