Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip is associated with long-term damage to Palestinians’ health, placing their children at risk of stunted growth or malnutrition.
Latest figures have revealed that more than 1,400 individuals were killed and many more were injured during the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip between December 2008 and January 2009.
According to a series of studies published in the Lancet, Israel’s onslaught on the Gaza siege, which has been in place since 2007, causes stress, injury, displacement and social suffering, particularly among children.
"The siege of this region continues to be the main obstacle for improvement of the living conditions and the quality of life of the population," said lead researcher Niveen Abu-Rmeileh.
Almost one-third of the studied population was displaced during the three-week war as 39 percent of the houses were either completely or partly destroyed.
By August 2009, still three-quarters of the damaged homes were not repaired, the study reported.
More than 70 percent of the studied households were still dependant on food aid, while 57 percent rated their quality of life as "less than good."
The study recounts fear, violence and uncertainty of women who had given birth to babies during the war time as they waited for labor to begin.
"I was not thinking like other people in face of death or shelling, but was only thinking of my case. What would happen if I had labor pains at night? How will I manage? They were shelling even ambulances. Nights were like nightmares. Each morning I breathed a sigh of relief that daylight had appeared," said a participant.
The study showed that about two percent of Gazan children and adolescents were underweight, whereas 15 percent were either overweight or obese.
One in four Gazan children were reported to miss breakfast — the main indicator of healthy eating habits, the study found. Anemia and stunt growth were seen in 10 and 17 percent of Gazan children, respectively.
"Comprehensive and effective school nutrition programs that are targeted at all age groups, with special attention to adolescents and girls, are needed because the data for overweight and iron-deficiency anemia are alarming," added Nasser.