Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell on deteriorating situation for children in Israel and the State of Palestine

13 October 2023

NEW YORK, 9 October 2023 – “Nothing justifies the killing, maiming or abducting of children – grave rights violations which UNICEF wholeheartedly condemns.

“Yet less than 72 hours after the outbreak of horrific violence in Israel, reports indicate that grave rights violations against children are rampant. Many children have been killed or injured, while countless others have been exposed to the violence.

“UNICEF calls on armed groups, or those responsible, for the immediate and safe release of any children being held hostage in Gaza so that they can be reunited with their families or caregivers. And we call on all parties to protect children from harm, in accordance with international humanitarian law.

“I am also deeply concerned about measures to block electricity and prevent food, fuel and water from entering Gaza, which may put the lives of children at risk.

“It is imperative that all parties refrain from further violence and attacks on civilian infrastructure.

“With the humanitarian situation rapidly deteriorating, humanitarian actors must be able to safely access children and their families with lifesaving services and supplies – wherever they may be.

“I remind all parties that in this war, as in all wars, it is children who suffer first and suffer most.”


Notes to editors:

In a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, UNICEF Spokesperson James Elder added: “In the Gaza Strip, UNICEF and its partners are on the ground delivering immediate humanitarian support, including medical supplies, fuel as well as mental health and psychosocial support. ”

Media contacts

Ricardo Pires
Communication Manager
Tel: +1 9176311226
Ammar Ammar
Tel: +962 791 837 388


UNICEF works in some of the world's toughest places, to reach the world's most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

Visit UNICEF Global website:
Visit UNICEF China website:
Follow us on Sina Weibo:
Wechat: unicefchina