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May 12, 2011 · 


Marking the Day of the Palestinian Child, Defence for Children International/Palestine Section held a press conference today in Ramallah to release the main findings of its report covering Israeli violations of Palestinian children’s rights in the year 2000. Taking the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as its framework, the report examines in detail Israeli violations of the Convention in areas such as the right to life, health, education, economy, and liberty. In addition to highlighting the manner in which Israeli child rights violations effect every sphere of Palestinian children’s lives, the findings of the report make clear Israel’s complete failure to comply with the provisions of the CRC, which entered into force in Israel on 2 November 1991. (please see attached report for main findings)

By taking the CRC as its framework, the DCI/PS report seeks to highlight the fact that the dismal child rights situation is the direct result of Israel’s failure to comply with international standards regarding the protection of children’s rights and the international community’s failure to insist that it do so. As a States Party to the CRC, Israel is required to submit a report detailing measures taken to comply with the Convention within two years after the entry into force of the Convention: for Israel, the report was due by 2 November 1993. For seven years, the State of Israel failed to submit its report. When it was finally submitted at the end of 2000, the report made absolutely no mention of Palestinian children in the occupied territories, though the Convention makes absolutely clear that the provisions of the CRC are applicable to ALL children who reside in areas under the control of the State Party-be it legal or illegal control. As a result, not only has the State of Israel actively engaged in systematic and gross violations of children’s rights, by excluding any mention of the status of Palestinian children’s rights in the occupied territories, Israel is attempting to absolve itself of any and all responsibility.

According to DCI/PS documentation, 105 Palestinian children died in 2000 as a direct result of Israeli military and settler presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The overwhelming majority of these deaths occurred after the outbreak of the Intifada in late September 2000. Examining the deaths resulting from Israeli weapon fire, DCI/PS research indicates that 72% resulted from shots fired to the upper part of the body (head and chest).

With reference to children injured, DCI/PS has documented the cases of 2,258 children injured in the year 2000, though the organization estimates that the total number of children injured is over 4,000. 2,022 of the cases documented were injured during the Intifada, while 236 were injured prior to the Intifada. Examining the statistics of injuries, DCI/PS research indicates a sharp rise in injuries to the upper body during the Intifada compared with injuries prior to the Intifada. In the latter period, 19% of the documented injuries were to the upper body, as compared with nearly 32% during the Intifada.

The report also explores violations suffered by the hundreds of Palestinian children arrested and detained by Israeli military forces in 2000, with over 250 arrested in the last quarter of the year.

In addition to highlighting the effects of Israel’s excessive and disproportionate use of force against children, the report refutes official Israeli attempts to justify the large number of child deaths by claiming that Palestinians have manipulated children into the frontlines of demonstrations to serve as “human shields” and to increase the number of deaths in order to sway world opinion. Thus, according to Israeli logic, Palestinian children are not being deliberately targeted by Israeli soldiers, but rather are caught in crossfire between “Palestinian gunmen” and the Israeli military.

According to Israeli Army Open-Fire Regulations, “A soldier will use a weapon in the event of immediate threat to life, his own or that of others, and when it is impossible to effectively defend himself from the assailant other than by use of a weapon. The firing is intended to hit the assailant alone, in the measure necessary for preventing the threat. No shooting should be done except while the danger still exists.” The regulations also state that, “It is forbidden to fire at women and children.”

DCI/PS research indicates that over 1/3 of the children killed by Israeli soldiers or settlers in 2000 were not participating in a demonstration or any form of confrontation at the time of their deaths. Therefore, it is logically impossible that these children presented a threat to the life of anyone, particularly heavily-armed Israeli soldiers.

Additionally, DCI/PS investigated a sample of 27 child deaths that occurred during confrontations with Israeli soldiers for which reliable information is available. These 27 cases have been documented by DCI/PS, including statements by family and friends of the dead, as well as eyewitnesses to the killing. DCI/PS then compared this documentation to the Summary of Events of the Day according to the Official IDF Spokesman and the relevant coverage from the Jerusalem Post – one of Israel’s two major English-language newspapers. Both these Israeli sources make a habit of meticulously recording every shooting incident against Israeli soldiers. In this way, it is possible to determine whether these children were killed in a situation where exchange of gunfire was occurring between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. What is abundantly and strikingly clear from this comparison, is that in not one case is there a single mention of armed clashes within the IDF summary or the Jerusalem Post. Indeed in a substantial number of cases the confrontations did not even warrant acknowledgement in the IDF summary of the days events.

As-a-whole, the DCI/PS report seeks not only to provide comprehensive statistics regarding violations of Palestinian children’s rights, but also to examine the manner in which Palestinian children have become central to public discussions of the conflict disseminated through the media, political rhetoric and other public fora. Specifically, it highlights the way in which Palestinian children have been critical to the shaping of this conflict and the many attempts to justify its lethal outcomes.

DCI/PS hopes that the information detailed in the report will assist in motivating the international community to take concrete action to ensure Israel’s compliance with its obligations under international law, in particular, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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