UNICEF chief marks ‘horrifying milestone’ in Gaza death toll
The head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) marked “another horrifying milestone” Monday amid the Israel-Hamas war.
“The reported number of children killed in #Gaza has now exceeded 5,000,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Each one is a life extinguished and a family devastated.”
“This must end! All children must be protected,” Russell added.
A UNICEF spokesperson shared a similar figure Tuesday, saying in a statement, “more than 5,350 Palestinian children have reportedly already been killed. The death toll among children is sickening. Grief is being embedded into Gaza.”
Palestinian health authorities have said more than 12,700 people in Palestine have been killed since the beginning of the war last month, with two-thirds of them being women and minors, according to The Associated Press.
The Biden administration has previously cast doubt on specific numbers released by Palestinians for the death toll in Gaza, though international humanitarian groups have generally cited the figures.
U.S. and Israeli officials are currently working to secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas in the Palestinian militant group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel. About 240 hostages, including U.S. citizens, were taken in the attack, which killed approximately 1,200 people in Israel.
White House officials have signaled hostage negotiations appear to be nearing a breakthrough.
The negotiations have played out amid weeks of fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. Palestinians have pressed for pauses in Israeli strikes as the territory faces a humanitarian crisis, with residents lacking access to electricity, water, food and other basics for weeks.
Russell, who previously served under Biden as assistant to the president and director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel before taking the helm of UNICEF, visited Gaza recently, according to a press release. She said what she “saw and heard was devastating.”
“The parties to the conflict are committing grave violations against children; these include killing, maiming, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access – all of which UNICEF condemns,” Russell said.
The Associated Press contributed.
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