Defining children as all those under the age of 18, in mid-2023 children were estimated to represent about 44% of the total population in Palestine (41% in the West Bank and 47% in Gaza Strip), according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.
In October 2023, various social media accounts claimed that half of all people in Palestine were children. "GAZA IS BEING BOMBED - ALMOST A THOUSAND CHILDREN HAVE DIED, 50% OF PALESTINIANS ARE KIDS," one post on X (formerly Twitter) read.
GAZA IS BEING BOMBED - ALMOST A THOUSAND CHILDREN HAVE DIED
— Sulaiman Ahmed (@ShaykhSulaiman) October 15, 2023
The post was roughly accurate. The most recent report on the Palestinian population was issued in July 2023 by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), and read:
The Palestinian Population is Young; more than One-third of the Population is Less than 15 Years
The percentage of individuals aged (0-14) years constituted 37% of the total population in mid-2023; of whom 35% in the West Bank and 40% in Gaza Strip. The percentage of the elderly population aged (65 years and above) reached 4% of the total population; of whom 4% in the West Bank and 3% in Gaza Strip, in mid-2023.
In April 2023, on Palestinian Child Day, the PCBS published an estimated number of children, in this case defined as the portion of the population under 18, expected to inhabit Palestine by mid-2023 (emphasis ours):
The estimated number of children (under 18 years) is expected to be 2.39 million in Palestine by mid-2023; 1.22 million males and 1.17 million females. Children in Palestine represent about 44% of the total population (41% in the West Bank, and 47% in Gaza Strip).
Data from 2021 released by Save the Children, a leading humanitarian organization for children, also stated that "50% of the Palestinian population are children":
85 children were killed by Israeli forces.
Over 1,600 were injured and 225 detained by Israeli forces.
50% of the Palestinian population are children. That’s about 2.5 million kids across Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Moreover, on Oct. 13, 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a statement with the title, "WHO pleads for immediate reversal of Gaza evacuation order to protect health and reduce suffering," underscoring the high number of underage Palestinians in Gaza (emphasis ours):
With ongoing airstrikes and closed borders, civilians have no safe place to go. Almost half of the population of Gaza is under 18 years of age. With dwindling supplies of safe food, clean water, health services, and without adequate shelter, children and adults, including the elderly, will all be at heightened risk of disease.
All in all, given that according to the PCBS' estimate from April 2023, in mid-2023 children in Palestine represented about 44% of the total population (41% in the West Bank, and 47% in Gaza Strip), we have rated this claim as "Mostly True."
On Oct. 7, 2023, Save the Children issued a statement following the escalation of conflict in Israel and Gaza, underscoring the impact of such traumatic events on children's health and safety:
Following an escalation in violence between Palestinian armed groups and Israeli forces in Israel and Gaza today, our teams and their families are bracing for what comes next. We know from previous experience that children will be terrified. Children have been killed and injured in every major escalation, not to mention suffering from serious mental health impacts — they’ve never emerged unscathed. All parties must show restraint and focus on keeping children and families safe and bringing an end to the fear and suffering they have endured for far too long.
As Reuters reported on Oct. 15, 2023, the death toll was rising in the Israel-Hamas conflict:
In Gaza, the death toll climbed to 2,329 Palestinians killed and 9,714 wounded, while in the West Bank, 54 were recorded dead and 1,100 wounded since the conflict between Hamas and Israel started on Oct. 7.
We encourage you to read other articles on the topic of Hamas-Israel war that you can find in our archives. For instance, on Oct. 13, 2023, we covered the topic of the use of white phosphorus, a component of smoke screens, widely considered a war crime when deployed over populated areas as an incendiary tool. We also explained what was known about the viral rumor spread by news media about Israeli babies allegedly beheaded by Hamas militants during an attack on Kfar Aza.