Thousands of Palestinian children missing in Gaza: Report

Up to 21,000 Palestinian children are estimated to be missing in the Gaza Strip, Save the Children has reported.

They include 4,000 who are likely trapped under the rubble and presumed dead and 17,000 who are unaccompanied and separated from their families, the charity said.

An unknown number are buried in unmarked graves, while others have been forcibly disappeared by Israeli forces, including those “detained and forcibly transferred out of Gaza [with] their whereabouts unknown to their families amidst reports of ill-treatment and torture”.

Jeremy Stoner, Save the Children’s regional director for the Middle East, stated, “Families are tortured by the uncertainty of the whereabouts of their loved ones. No parent should have to dig through rubble or mass graves to try and find their child’s body. No child should be alone, unprotected in a war zone. No child should be detained or held hostage”.

Stoner added a ceasefire was needed “desperately” to help “support the missing children who have survived and to prevent more families from being destroyed”.

Israel, flouting a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire, has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since an October attack last year by the Palestinian resistance group Hamas.

Over 37,500 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, and nearly 86,000 others injured, according to local health authorities.

More than eight months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water, and medicine.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, whose latest ruling ordered it to immediately halt its operation in the southern city of Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded in early May.

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