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Nearly 400 children killed in Israel’s offensive on Gaza: Unicef
Geneva, Aug 5 (IANS/EFE) Nearly 400 Palestinian children were killed and 2,500 wounded in the 29-day Israeli offensive on the Gaza strip, and 370,000 more are in need of urgent psychological care, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) reported on Tuesday.
"The offensive has had a catastrophic and tragic impact on children. It has killed 392 children and 2,502 have been injured," said Pernille Ironside, head of the Uniccef field office in Gaza.
Ironside also warned of an imminent outbreak of contagious diseases and diaorrhea – potentially deadly for children under five – in Gaza, where power has been knocked down and sanitation and potable water are non-existent.
She also stressed that there was not a single family who has not been directly affected by a loss in Gaza, a territory only 45 km long by between six and 14 km wide.
"Destruction is total. The weaponry used causes terrible, awful amputations. This happened before the eyes of children, they have seen their friends and their parents die," said the official.
Unicef estimates that 370,000 children will need urgent psychological help to try to overcome the trauma they experienced.
Ironside said 142 schools in Gaza, including 89 run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), were damaged by the Israeli bombing, in addition to direct attacks against three UN schools.
She also highlighted the absence of equipment and material to build new schools, due to the blockade Israel imposes on the Palestinian coastal enclave.
A report published Tuesday by the Palestinian information ministry said 10,600 homes had been affected by the Israeli bombardments, of which 8,800 suffered damages and 1,724 were destroyed.
The report estimated economic losses at $1.6 billion, while Palestinian Public Works Minister Mufeed al Hasayne said $5 billion would be needed to repair damages to buildings and infrastructures.
Israel launched its Operation Protective Edge July 8 to stop Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza and destroy the capabilities of the Islamic movement Hamas, which controls the enclave.
More than 1,800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed and over 9,500 have been wounded in the onslaught, which entered its 29th day Tuesday as a 72-hour Israeli truce took effect in an attempt to give negotiations in Cairo a chance.