Mohammed Aghaalkurdi says his nephews and nieces in Gaza are “longing for a warm, healthy dinner” this year, as hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians try to seek protection from Israel’s shelling and ground offensive.
“As children around the world celebrate Christmas and New Year and set resolutions for what is hoped will be a bright future, the children of Gaza are being hit hard,” said Aghaalkurdi, program officer at the charity Medical Aid. for Palestine, based in the United Kingdom ( MAP), said on Monday.
Aghaalkurdi’s testimony was shared with CNN by MAP. She is staying in a rented house in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, with at least 10 other people, including five of her colleagues and her families.
Israel’s all-out siege of the Palestinian territory and severe restrictions on the entry of essential supplies into the strip have sent food prices soaring, leaving 2.2 million residents in Gaza at risk of severe dehydration, malnutrition and infectious diseases, including upper respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, lice and scabies. chickenpox, rash, jaundice and meningitis, according to the World Health Organization.
Israeli strikes on Gaza since the Hamas attacks of October 7 have killed at least 22,185 Palestinians, most of whom are women, children and the elderly, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. CNN cannot independently confirm the figures provided by the Gaza Ministry of Health due to restricted access to the region and the difficulty in verifying exact figures amid the ongoing war.
“For more than 80 days, (the children) have been mercilessly killed and displaced with their families on countless occasions until they ended up in a cold, helpless tent, unprotected, hungry and thirsty,” Aghaalkurdi said.
“Their beautiful dreams have been shattered and turned into nightmares filled with fear and homelessness. Surrounded by exhausted and busy adults (searching for food and clean water), our children have lost the beautiful meaning of life.
“Despite what has been happening, there is a small hope we carry within our hearts that calm will soon prevail and our children will heal.”
Salwa Tibi, a displaced aid worker with the humanitarian agency CARE International, told CNN on Tuesday that she hopes 2024 will bring “security, peace and prosperity.”
Tibi, 53, lives in a rented house in Rafah, southern Gaza, with at least 20 relatives, including eight children, the youngest of whom is three months old.
“(I hope) that Gaza is rebuilt as quickly as possible and that life returns to normal despite the severe pain and losses of loved ones, friends and family,” he said.