Over 13,000 children killed by Israel in Gaza war: UNICEF

Over 13,000 children killed by Israel in Gaza war: UNICEF
The death toll for Palestinian children in Gaza is estimated to be higher as thousands are still trapped under rubble, amid Israel's war.
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Gazan children make up at least a third of the death toll in the enclave [Getty/file photo]

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said on Sunday over 13,000 children have been killed in Gaza in Israel's offensive, adding many kids were suffering from severe malnutrition and did not "even have the energy to cry," in an interview with CBS News.

When asked if Russell was referring to the agency's own estimate or was basing the figure on reporting from authorities in Gaza, a UNICEF spokesperson pointed to a press statement by the UN children's agency that attributed the figure to Gaza's health ministry.

Israel has waged a deadly war in the enclave, killing close to 32,000 people, mostly women an children. Tel Aviv's atrocities - including the imposing of a blockade in the Gaza Strip have been described as genocide-like.

"Thousands more have been injured or we can't even determine where they are. They may be stuck under rubble ... We haven't seen that rate of death among children in almost any other conflict in the world," Russell told CBS News' "Face the Nation" programme.

"I've been in wards of children who are suffering from severe anemia malnutrition, the whole ward is absolutely quiet. Because the children, the babies don't even have the energy to cry."

Russell said there were "very great bureaucratic challenges" moving trucks into Gaza for aid and assistance.

A March 14 infographic from OCHA, the UN humanitarian office, cites the Gaza government media office as saying that over 13,000 children and at least 9,000 women have been killed in Gaza since October 7.

International criticism has mounted on Israel due to the death toll of the war, the starvation crisis in Gaza, and the blocking of aid deliveries into the enclave.

A UN expert said earlier this month that Israel was destroying Gaza's food system as part of a broader "starvation campaign."

Israel's military assault on Gaza has displaced nearly its entire 2.3 million-person population, caused a starvation crisis and has flattened most of the enclave.

One in three children under age 2 in northern Gaza is now acutely malnourished and famine is looming, the main UN agency operating in the Palestinian enclave said on Saturday.