Violence in Gaza and Israel must end for the sake of children: World Vision

World Vision condemns the escalating violence towards Israelis and Palestinians which has resulted in deaths and injuries of children on both sides of the conflict.

The violence has increased significantly over the last few days with rockets being fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel and intense air strikes from the Israeli army on targets in Gaza.

World Vision’s National Director in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza, Alex Snary, said that the vicious cycle of violence must stop immediately.

“We’re watching innocent civilians, including children, being injured and killed. Leaders have a responsibility to cease this futile sacrifice of innocent lives and engage in genuine dialogue to reach a just and lasting peace,” Mr Snary said.

With over 800 air strikes on Gaza, reports indicate that at least 88 people have been killed in the last three days, a majority of whom are women and children. More than 620 people have been injured and more than 100 houses totally destroyed.

“Enough is enough. Children need peace; not tomorrow, not next week but today. We have witnessed the clear, long-term, devastating impact this violence has on children and families,” Mr Snary said.

World Vision operations in Gaza have been suspended due to the extreme danger staff would be under to reach children and families in program areas. The humanitarian organisation is preparing an emergency response as soon as the security situation allows.

“Sadly we know from previous experience that even after the immediate needs for food and shelter are met, the psychological suffering of the children and the grieving for those who were killed will continue for a long time to come.”

Palestinian armed groups have fired over 250 rockets into Israel’s south, centre and coastal plains. The rockets have reached Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and as far as Hadera, with the Iron Dome defence system intercepting most of them. Nine Israelis have suffered light injuries while running for shelter, while 59 others have been treated for shock.

The Government of Israel and Palestinian Unity Government must ensure the legitimate security concerns of both Israelis and Palestinians.

World Vision Australia’s chief executive Tim Costello said that the ongoing conflict has robbed generations of Palestinian and Israeli children of peace, justice and hope of safety, free from fear.

“Our hearts are heavy with news of the violence outbreak and its impact. Our thoughts and prayers are with the many families that have lost loved ones,” Mr Costello said.

Alex Snary - World Vision Jerusalem, West Bank & Gaza National Director and Tim Costello - World Vision Australia chief executive are available for interview.

Gabrielle Brophy, 0407 575 112

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