Chilling Data Claims 10000 Women Dead, 19000 Kids Orphaned In Gaza

UN Women launched a Gender Alert on Gaza, shedding light on a harrowing truth: six months into the war, over 10,000 Palestinian women have perished, leaving behind a staggering 19,000 orphaned children.

Oshi Saxena
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As the war's devastating impact approaches its six-month mark, the data from the UN Women and Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza reveals an unprecedented toll on women's lives. With over 10,000 Palestinian women, including an estimated 6,000 mothers, having tragically lost their lives, 19,000 children left orphaned, and more than 12,300 children, reportedly killed by Israeli forces in Gaza since early October. With headlines like 'No privacy, no water', 'Gaza women use period-delaying pills', and 'Palestinian women in Gaza face premature birth and miscarriage,' it's clear the ramifications of this war are dire and far-reaching, and the daily toll reveals a haunting reality: at the current rate, an average of 63 women lose their lives every day.


The Israeli Parliament, or Knesset, convened a session in November dedicated to addressing sexual and gender-based violence during the ongoing conflict with Gaza. UN Women has also made a fervent plea for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the establishment of humanitarian access to provide essential aid. This includes food, water, fuel, and healthcare supplies specifically for the women and girls in Gaza.

The Gendered Impact

The UN Women's Report highlights a cruel inversion in the demographics of casualties. In the 15 years preceding the recent conflict, 67 percent of civilians killed in Gaza and the West Bank were men, while less than 14 percent were women. However, since the onset of the current conflict, women and children have become the predominant victims, emphasizing the urgent need for a reassessment of humanitarian efforts.

Since the early days of October, an estimated 9,000 women have tragically lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces in Gaza. This staggering figure, however, is likely a conservative estimate, as many more women remain unaccounted for, buried under the debris of bombed-out buildings. Every day that the conflict persists, an average of 63 women face the grim reality of death, leaving behind shattered families and communities.

As a consequence of the conflict, according to November's data, at least 3,000 women may have become widows and heads of households, grappling with the challenges of rebuilding shattered lives. Equally concerning is the fate of at least 10,000  children who may have lost their fathers. 

The Dire Situation in Gaza


Even before the current crisis, the situation in Gaza was grim. A staggering 97% of men and 98% of women in  Gaza lived in fear for their safety. UNICEF has labelled Gaza as the "most dangerous place to be a child," highlighting the gravity of the situation. 

  • An estimated 10,000 women have fallen victim to the conflict, with an estimated 6,000 of them being mothers, at the hands of Israeli forces in Gaza since early October. However, this number is likely an underestimate, as many more women are believed to be buried beneath the rubble, their fates unknown.
  • Over 19,000 women have been injured.
  • Nearly 1 million women and girls have been forced from their homes
  •  19,000 children are orphaned and vulnerable to the harsh realities of conflict.
  •  At the current rate, an average of 63 women face a tragic end daily. Among them, an estimated 37 mothers lost their lives, leaving families shattered and children with diminished protection.
  • There are 155,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women in Gaza, and 5,500 of them are expected to deliver in the next month.
  • The war's impact on food security is staggering, as more than 4 out of 5 women (84%) report that their families now consume half or less of the food they had before the conflict erupted. Mothers and adult women, burdened with the responsibility of sourcing food, find themselves eating last, in reduced quantities, and with less frequency than others.
  • Nearly 9 in 10 women (87%) in Gaza find it increasingly challenging to access food compared to men. Some women resort to extreme coping mechanisms, such as scavenging for food under rubble or in dumpsters. The looming spectre of starvation hovers over Gaza's 2.3 million inhabitants, with acute levels of food insecurity anticipated within weeks.
  • Only 10 out of 12 surveyed women's organizations are partially operational, providing essential emergency response services. Shockingly, despite their crucial role, less than 1% of the funds raised through the 2023 Flash Appeal have reached these organizations.

Needs and Vulnerabilities

Women living in Gaza face unique and urgent needs and vulnerabilities. This is not only due to the current conflict but also because of structural gender discrimination, including laws in Palestine that place women under the protection and guardianship of men. These structures increase women's risks of gender-based violence and food insecurity. Furthermore, they make women more likely than men to find themselves living in substandard temporary shelters when displaced.

Reproductive Health in Crisis

Pregnant Palestinian women in Gaza are facing dire challenges. Hospitals in the Gaza Strip have not been spared from Israeli bombings since the conflict began. The Al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City, which usually provides obstetric services, had to redirect patients to the Al-Hilu International Hospital due to the influx of war victims. The shortage of beds, doctors, and prenatal and postnatal care has placed pregnant women in a precarious situation, exacerbated by the war Israel is waging in Gaza.


The Palestinian Ministry of Health has warned of a looming humanitarian catastrophe as Gaza Strip hospitals struggle with a shortage of fuel, medicine, and medical supplies due to the ongoing Israeli war. The shutdown of key electrical generators in medical facilities is exacerbating an already dire situation.

A scarcity of essential hygiene products further exacerbates the crisis, with menstrual hygiene items emerging as a critical need for over 690,000 menstruating women and adolescent girls in Gaza. The unavailability of sanitary pads in local markets not only jeopardizes their physical well-being, exposing them to reproductive and urinary tract infections, but also inflicts psychological distress and insecurity.  For breastfeeding mothers and pregnant women, access to clean water is not just a necessity but a lifeline for survival. 

As per CARE's findings, there is a concerning rise in the frequency of emergency C-sections being performed in Gaza. What's even more distressing is that these medical procedures are taking place without the administration of anaesthetics. CARE International has recently disclosed a deeply troubling revelation to Jezebel.

The organization has substantiated reports from medical professionals working in Gaza, indicating a troubling trend where pregnant Gazan women are undergoing C-sections without the benefit of anaesthetics. The dire reason behind this is the severe scarcity of anaesthetics, forcing medical teams to resort to these procedures in a race against time, striving to save both the lives of mothers and their newborns amid the ongoing Israeli bombardment.

UNFPA estimates that there are 540,000 women of reproductive age living in Gaza, among whom 155,000 are currently pregnant, with 5,500 expected to deliver in the next month. Despite seeking refuge in Gaza's southern regions, civilians are targeted, leaving expecting mothers to grapple with serious health hazards during childbirth and the postpartum period. Access to healthcare remains a formidable challenge, further compounded by dwindling life-saving resources.

The Use of Menstruation-Delaying Pills


Faced with displacement, overcrowded living conditions, and a lack of access to water and menstrual hygiene products, women in Gaza have resorted to taking menstruation-delaying pills, typically prescribed for conditions such as severe menstrual bleeding, endometriosis, and painful periods. These pills may have side effects, but some women feel they have no choice amidst the relentless Israeli bombardment and blockade of Gaza.

Looming Sanitation Crisis and Disease Outbreak

On Tuesday, the United Nations raised the alarm about the dire situation unfolding in the Gaza Strip as fuel shortages and deteriorating sanitation conditions converge into a potential "perfect storm for tragedy." UNICEF, the UN children's agency, emphasized the serious threat of a mass disease outbreak in this besieged Palestinian territory.

The UNICEF spokesman, James Elder, delivered a somber message during a press briefing in Geneva, stating, "Without enough fuel, we will see the collapse of sanitation services. So we have then, on top of the mortars and the bombs, a perfect storm for the spread of disease," pointing out that an estimated 800,000 children in the enclave are displaced from their homes

Human Toll and Impact on Women & Children 

The longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war between Israel and Hamas have reached unprecedented levels, with the Palestinian death toll exceeding 25,000, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip. The majority of casualties are women and minors, and around 85% of Gaza's residents have been displaced.

The latest data from the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza paints a grim picture: more than 12,300 children have been killed in the Palestinian territory between last October and the end of February, surpassing the cumulative number of children killed in global conflicts over a span of four years, as revealed by Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. Shockingly, the number of children killed in this month of Israeli bombing also exceeds the annual number of child casualties in all the world's conflict zones since 2019.

The women of Gaza are enduring immense suffering as a result of the ongoing conflict. The dire state of reproductive health, the lack of access to healthcare, and the use of unconventional solutions like menstruation-delaying pills and medical procedures placed without the administration of anaesthetics all underscore the need for urgent international intervention and humanitarian aid to alleviate their suffering and help restore a sense of normalcy in their lives

Whereas women's harrowing ordeals in Hamas captivity tell the world another story. Chen Goldstein-Almog, one of the fortunate women released from captivity, bravely shared the heart-wrenching experiences of those who were not as fortunate. Almog recounted that the terrorists subjected numerous women to multiple rapes, turning them into what she described as "sex dolls" for the militant group. The captors went to extremes in their dehumanization tactics, providing inappropriate, doll-like clothes for the captive women. Almog described how these garments symbolized the terrorists' power to treat the women as objects to do with as they pleased.

There were women in captivity who had not experienced their menstrual cycles for an extended period. This alarming detail points towards the possibility of pregnancies resulting from the heinous acts perpetrated by the captors.

Desperation of Families

Families of the hostages, driven to desperation, took matters into their own hands. Storming a parliamentary committee session in Jerusalem, they demanded more significant efforts from lawmakers to secure the release of their loved ones. 

The Role of Women-Led Organisations

Amidst the chaos, women's organizations in Gaza are playing a crucial role in providing essential emergency response services. However, despite their extraordinary efforts, less than 1 percent of the funding raised through the 2023 Flash Appeal has reached these organizations. Channelling funding to these frontline groups is imperative to address the overwhelming needs of women, their families, and communities.

Despite the escalating hostilities, the report finds resilience in women-led and women’s rights organizations operating in the Gaza Strip. 83 percent of surveyed women's organizations remain partially operational, focusing primarily on emergency response efforts during the war. However, the report highlights a stark imbalance in funding, with just 0.09 percent of last year's flash appeal for Gaza going directly to national or local women’s rights organizations.

While organizations like UNRWA endeavour to provide essential shelter items and hygiene kits, the scale of the crisis necessitates broader assistance. The European Union's funding of UNRWA plays a pivotal role in supporting the provision of vital resources to affected families. As of January 2024, hygiene kits, alongside other non-food items, have been distributed to over 80,000 families, offering a lifeline amidst the chaos.


Women in War Israel Palestine Crisis Women Reproductive Health Pregnant Women Gaza Gaza Conflict