Israeli Siege Causes Sharp Rise in Newborn Baby Deaths in Gaza

Doctors in Gaza are also seeing a rise in stillborn babies

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that newborn mortality rates are rising sharply in the Gaza Strip due to the US-backed Israeli bombing campaign and starvation blockade.

“From different doctors, particularly in the maternity hospitals, they’re reporting that they’re seeing a big rise in children born with low birth weight, and just not surviving the neonatal period because they’re born too small,” said WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris, according to AFP.

Harris said the WHO doesn’t have precise statistics on the newborn mortality rate due to the devastation in Gaza and Israel’s attacks on hospitals. The Israeli military recently withdrew from the Al Shifa hospital in northern Gaza after a 15-day siege, leaving the buildings completely destroyed and a pile of dead bodies in its wake.

Doctors in Gaza have said they’re also seeing a rise in women losing their pregnancies and stillborn births due to malnutrition and lack of clean drinking water. “The doctors told me malnutrition had a big role in this,” Mai Kamal Zaqout, a 22-year-old Palestinian woman who had a stillbirth, told NBC News.

“I was not able to eat properly. I didn’t take vitamins. There was nothing available. … The water was polluted. I was feeling it,” said Zaqout, whose husband was killed by an Israeli airstrike.

According to the UN’s Population Fund, there are about “155,000 pregnant women and new mothers are struggling to survive” in Gaza. “For the 5,500 women who will give birth in the coming month, accessing adequate health care is an unimaginable challenge. Only three maternity hospitals remain in the Gaza Strip, and they are overwhelmed with patients. Doctors and midwives – desperate for medicines and supplies – are struggling to provide adequate care to newborns,” the Population Fund said on its website.

Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza has been a war on children and babies from the very beginning. In November, the Israeli military left four premature babies to die at the Al-Nasr Children’s Hospital in northern Gaza. The babies were found decomposing in their hospital beds.

At least 13,000 children have been killed in the Israeli bombing campaign, which is considered a low estimate since it doesn’t account for children who are dead under the rubble. At this point, the number of children and babies who have died of malnutrition due to the siege is unknown.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.