Gaza women and girls mourn relatives killed in an Israeli airstrike

Palestinian women mourn relatives killed in Israeli bombardment of al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 1, 2024.

(Photo: AFP via Getty Images)

'What International Women's Day?' Asks Gaza Amid Israeli Genocide

"At least 9,000 women have been killed; many more are under the rubble," said UNRWA. "On average, 63 women are killed in Gaza per day—37 are mothers who leave their families behind."

Friday is International Women's Day, but Gaza residents enduring Israel's genocidal onslaught aren't celebrating, they're struggling to keep themselves and their children alive and pleading with the world for an immediate cease-fire to relieve their suffering.

"On International Women's Day, the women in Gaza continue to endure the consequences of this brutal war," the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said on social media. "At least 9,000 women have been killed; many more are under the rubble. On average, 63 women are killed in Gaza per day—37 are mothers who leave their families behind."

Iman Zakout, a displaced Palestinian woman now living in a tent in a makeshift camp in Rafah after being forcibly displaced by Israeli bombing, toldTRT World that "on March 8, there is no Women's Day for us."

"Women's Day is outside Palestine," she added. "In Palestine, we do not have Women's Day, especially in Gaza."

Another refugee, Umm Ahmed Zakout, said: "Women cannot hold onto their children. The houses have been bombed. This is a war of extermination. This is not just a war."

"These are people. They have all been destroyed. Every generation is killed," she added. "Every generation grows up and is then killed. Are they not humans? You bring up your child with your heart, and within moments, within minutes, he is gone, and the house he is in is gone."

In addition to bombs and bullets, Gazans now also face the threat of starvation caused by the Israeli siege and the blockage of humanitarian aid convoys by Israel Defense Forces soldiers and extremist civilians. Gaza health officials said Thursday that at least 21 people—most of them young children—have died of malnutrition and dehydration in recent days.

Pregnant women and their developing fetuses are particularly vulnerable. Health officials said Thursday that 60,000 pregnant women in Gaza are suffering from dehydration, malnutrition, and lack of adequate medical care. The results are increasingly catastrophic—Gaza's youngest known starvation fatality was reportedly just 1 day old.

"Is this a suitable life for a pregnant woman? A tent, cold, open air, and the lack of the basic necessities of life?" Etemad Assaf, who at eight months pregnant is a refugee sheltering in Deir el-Balah, asked in an interview with Al Jazeera. "My little daughter, who is 11 months old, needs diapers, and they are expensive. We can barely afford food, and sometimes there is no food to eat at all."

"My big concern now is my impending birth and the dire conditions around me, particularly given what we hear about the complete collapse of hospitals in Gaza," Assaf continued. "The healthcare system is crumbling. There is not even a proper place to rest after delivery."

Often, there isn't even a proper place to give birth, as reports of women left with no choice but to deliver in tents, public toilets, and rubble-strewn streets attest. The lack of medications has also forced pregnant women to undergo Caesarian sections without anesthesia.

Gaza's women and girls have also been subjected to from the arbitrary detention, sexual abuse, and even execution that witnesses and survivors say Israeli troops committed against Palestinian men and boys.

At demonstrations around the world on Friday, protesters amplified calls by Gaza's women for solidarity and a cease-fire.

"My message for the world on March 8 is to look at the women and girls of Gaza on this day, acknowledge them and be in solidarity with them," Amal Shawareb, UNRWA's deputy protection team leader in Gaza, said in a video posted on social media. "They call on the world not to look away."

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