In The Line Of Fire: Children Face The Brunt Of Violence As Conflict Rages In Palestine, Afghanistan

From Afghanistan to Palestine, children are increasingly becoming the targets of hostile attacks and regional clashes. Although the motives may vary in different countries, the attacks seem to only exacerbate in recent years.  

On Saturday (May 8), a car bomb went off outside a secondary school in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing more than 80 people and leaving more than 150 injured. Most of the victims were teenage school girls who were leaving the school premises.

Although such attacks have been common in Afghanistan, this is believed to be the deadliest bombing targeting civilians in at least a year in the country. No militant faction has taken responsibility for the attacks; however, the area is home to the Hazara minority groups, frequently targeted by many militant groups active in Afghanistan.

The Afghan attack was followed by another school attack in Russia, where a gunman stormed the campus killing seven children – four boys and three girls – as well as a female teacher and a female school worker. The children were reported to be eighth graders (aged around 15).

The attack which took place on Tuesday left at least 18 children and three adults wounded, which were being treated in hospitals for gunshot wounds, fractures, and bruising, as the last reports came in.

The shocking incident took place in the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, which is 820 km east of Moscow, and a 19-year-old suspect has been taken into custody.

The video footages that went viral on social media showed some children jumping from windows to save their lives, with some being evacuated by emergency services. According to the Russian TV, two children died after jumping from a second-floor window.

The suspect, named locally as Ilnaz Galyaviev, is a Kazan resident and reportedly studied at the school. The Russian authorities said Galyaviev was a registered firearm owner and had received a firearms license only recently.

The shooter had earlier posted a threat on his social media account, claiming that he planned to kill a “huge number” of people before shooting himself. Galyaviev spotted a black mask with the word “god” written across it in red on his post on social media.

According to the BBC, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said President Putin had ordered the chief of Russia’s National Guard to “work out as a matter of urgency new regulations on the types of weapon that can be in civilian circulation and that can be owned by the public.”

Compared to the US or other countries, school shootings rarely happen in Russia and the country is now looking at introducing more restrictions on the possession of firearms by the public.

Israel-Palestine Conflict

In another part of the world, considered to be one of the most dangerous places for children, renewed violence has claimed many lives.

In the raging Israel-Palestine conflict, which started with Israeli troops storming the historic Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, at least 14 children are reported to have been killed due to airstrikes on Gaza, while the total toll in Gaza stood at 48.

Israel and Hamas exchanged a barrage of rockets, missiles, and airstrikes, on Tuesday night, with most of the projectiles falling in civilian areas in both Tel Aviv and Gaza. At least 296 people from Gaza are believed to be wounded since the offensive began on Monday.

Israeli security forces responded to the Hamas missile strikes with airstrikes targeting civilian buildings in Gaza. While Hamas and other militant groups from the Palestinian side have been bombarding the capital Tel Aviv with at least 850 rockets fired during Tuesday night, the retaliatory Israeli airstrikes hit multiple Hamas targets, claiming to have killed many top commanders.

Sirens started ringing in many areas of Tel Aviv as a huge number of rockets from Gaza terrified the residents who sought shelter in nearby buildings. The escalating violence created a sense of fear and trauma in the women and children on both sides of the divide.

The Palestine-Israel conflict has resulted in the killing of hundreds of children ever since the conflict started. As the world struggles to solve the conflict, more and more lives are expected to be lost.

Worldwide, children are becoming targets of terrorists and armed groups fighting for a variety of reasons. And the leading cause, experts say, is that such attacks attract more attention and hype, which could possibly be a motive for such inhuman acts.

The US has become the worst victim of school shootings lately, with armed gunmen, sometimes mentally challenged, barging into schools and firing indiscriminately.

According to Thomas Helm, “It is depressing but important to recognize that extremists know an atrocity is more likely to attract the attention of the world if it targets the young,” he writes in The National News.

Children have mostly been the targets of violence in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Syria, and other war-ravaged nations.