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An Israeli airstrike has destroyed one Oxfam supported kindergarten (Al Bajan kindergarten) and left another damaged (Al Housna kindergarten) in Karama, North West Gaza City, the international aid agency said today. The agency had repaired water and sanitation facilities in the two kindergartens as part of an effort to improve the quality of life for people in communities that had been heavily affected during the last major Israeli military campaign on Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009.
Sara Almer, from Oxfam said:
“More than 150 children attended these kindergartens. The children are safe, but the places where they learnt and played are now in ruins. In Gaza and in Israel, children are too often caught in the crossfire and the international community must act urgently to get all parties to the conflict to abide by an immediate ceasefire,” Almer said.
According to reports from the ground, due to fear of airstrikes in the Karama area, more than 80 per cent of people living there have fled their homes in search of safety, leaving streets deserted.
More than half of Gaza’s population of 1.6 million inhabitants are children. Oxfam is concerned about the impact of the current violence on children who we know are already suffering high levels of trauma such as bed-wetting.
“Children should be able to feel safe going to school and their families should be able to feel safe in their homes. We’re witnessing over the past days an increase of destruction and damage to civilian infrastructure, including much that has been provided through donor aid. We are trying to provide children a place where they can learn and grow and play, and it is essential that all parties abide by their obligations under International Law to keep people and places like schools and homes safe,” she said.
According to UN OCHA, 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the 2008-2009 military operation,’ including 353 children, and 5,300 were injured. 13 Israelis were also killed during ‘Cast Lead’, 3 of whom were civilians.
The direct cost of damage to civilian infrastructure in Gaza during the 2008-2009 military operation has been estimated between US$659.3 million and US$891.8 million.