Mohammed Aghaalkurdi says his nephews and nieces in Gaza are “craving a warm and healthy dinner” this year, as hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians try to seek protection from Israel’s bombardment and ground offensive.
“While children all around the world are celebrating Christmas and New Year’s and setting resolutions for what is hoped to be a bright future, children of Gaza are being heavily attacked,” Aghaalkurdi, a program officer with UK-based charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), said Monday.
Aghaalkurdi’s testimony was shared with CNN by MAP. He’s staying in a rented house in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, with at least 10 other people — including five of his colleagues and their families.
Israel’s complete siege on the Palestinian territory and severe restrictions of essential supplies entering the strip have triggered spiraling food prices, 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, skin rash, jaundice and meningitis, according to the World Health Organization.
Israeli attacks on Gaza since Hamas’ October 7 attacks have killed at least 22,185 Palestinians, most of whom are women, children and the elderly, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health. CNN is unable to independently confirm the figures provided by the health ministry in Gaza due to restricted access to the region and the difficulty in verifying accurate numbers amidst the ongoing war.
“For more than 80 days, (children) have been unmercifully killed and displaced with their families for countless times until (they) ended up in a helpless and cold 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 (looking for food and drinking water), our kids have lost the beautiful meanings of life.
“Despite what has been happening, there is a little hope we carry inside our hearts that calm will prevail soon and our kids will heal.”
Salwa Tibi, a displaced aid worker with humanitarian agency CARE International, told CNN on Tuesday she hopes 2024 will bring “security, safety, peace and prosperity.”
Tibi, 53, is staying in a rented house in Rafah, southern Gaza, with at least 20 relatives including eight children — the youngest of whom is 3 months old.
“(I) hope Gaza will be reconstructed as quickly as possible, and that life will return to normal despite the severe pain, losses of loved ones, friends and relatives,” she said.