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article imageOp-Ed: The littlest victims — Children of Gaza and Israel

By Greta McClain     Nov 21, 2012 in World
Hundreds of Palestinians and Israelis have been killed or wounded during eight days of violence, and the children of both countries are left with scars that will last a lifetime.
As Palestinians celebrate news of a ceasefire, many Israelis are criticizing Prime Minister Netanyahu. Netanyahu has defended the ceasefire agreement, saying it was necessary to take advantage of the opportunity for a ceasefire. He also reminded Israelis that there were also victims of the violence within Israel.
There have been more than 150 people killed in Gaza since Operation Pillar of Defense began. UNICEF reported on Friday that 6 children between the ages of 10 months to 15 years had been killed, and another 60 have been injured within Gaza. On Sunday they reported an increase in the number of children killed to 18. As of Tuesday, 28 children were among the dead, and another 258 children have been wounded according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.
Although Daniel Ayalon, an Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, claims that "most" of those killed in Gaza “deserved it” and Michael Ben-Ari, a member of the Israeli National Union alliance says "there are no innocents in Gaza, mow them down", the young lives that have been shattered do not understand the politics of the conflict, only the pain.
Five teams of emergency psycho-social specialists from UNICEF have been visiting hospitals and homes, speaking to children who have witnessed or been victims of the violence. In both Gaza and Israel, those who have not witnessed the devastating violence up close, are still forced to deal with the fear of air raid sirens and wondering if they will be jolted awake in the middle of the night to flee to shelters. In Gaza, many children sleep in the cold, with windows left open to reduce the risk of explosions blowing out shards of glass.
It is difficult enough for adults to process and understand the death and destruction. For the littlest victims, it is well beyond their comprehension.
This young child sits next to his mother who was killed by a missile attack in Gaza. He would not stop crying until he was next to his mother, unaware that she will never be able to hold and comfort him again.
A child sits beside his mother  killed in a missile attack in Gaza.
A child sits beside his mother, killed in a missile attack in Gaza.
Khaled Elsadeq/Twitter
This baby required treatment after being injured in a missile blast in Gaza.
A baby is treated for injuries at a medical facility in Gaza.
A baby is treated for injuries at a medical facility in Gaza.
Gigi Ibrahim
This boy carries his little brother and mourns after learning both of his parents were killed by a missile in Gaza.
Boy holds his brother after learning their parents were killed in Gaza.
Boy holds his brother after learning their parents were killed in Gaza.
A young girl tries to study without electricity in Gaza.
Girl studies in darkness in Gaza.
Girl studies in darkness in Gaza.
As human beings, we can only pray that some day we can forget our political differences and remember our obligation to the children of the world. Hopefully we can remember our obligation to protect the children, to teach them love and tolerance and allow them to be children instead of becoming victims of another bloody conflict.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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