Children and young people connected to SOS Children’s Villages in Israel and Palestine are among the victims of the escalating violence.
Sigal, a graduate of the SOS Children’s Village Neradim in Arad, was killed while enjoying a music festival in Reim. Sigal, 26, an older sister to two girls and a boy, grew up in the village from the age of 6 to the age of 18.
When she and her siblings lost their mother, Sigal stepped in her shoes. Shlomi, the education coordinator in the village, says: "She acted like a mother even though she herself was a child. She always took care of her siblings. Despite the difficulties, she never gave up."
Sigal's younger sister still lives in the children’s village and feels like she lost her mother once again. She is surrounded by her siblings and friends. The staff provides her with professional support and a lot of love.
In Palestine, 22-year-old Mohammad who participated in the SOS Children’s Villages' employability programme YouthCan! for the past three years, was killed in the middle of the night when a missle struck his home as the family slept. His brother and two sisters died as well, while their mother is in critical condition.
Mohammad was planning on starting his own business in digital marketing and was a content creator on social media. “Mohammad wanted to improve the situation of his family. He graduated and dreamt of having a job at least to support them," says Tamara, the family empowerment social worker from Rafah.
Furthermore, a child from a family in Gaza supported through the family empowerment programme was also killed and two more children are in intensive care.
The brother of two young people living in the youth apartments in Israel was killed while one of the settlements in the south were attacked. SOS Children’s Villages' staff are making sure that the siblings receive mental health support and do not lack anything as they grieve their loss.
Amid all the loss, children who live in the south of Israel returned to the village this week after visiting family members during a holiday break. Some of them experienced very difficult sights of militants killing civilians in their homes, and of intense missile attacks.
The children arrived back in the village with fear and anxiety. Professionals are working with them to help them process the fear brought on by these traumatic events.
To support children and families affected by the escalating conflict, SOS Children’s Villages in Israel and Palestine are planning to provide:
- direct help to families in order to prevent family separation,
- mental health and psychological support to children and families
- education and other activities for children while schools remain closed.