Children in Palestine

“Life is becoming more violent for children in the Palestinian Territory. By the end of 2006 more than 120 children had died due to the conflict, more than double the number of child deaths in 2005. Many more have been injured, some for life.”

UNICEF, 2007

Children in Palestine: The Facts

- 60% of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are under 19-years-old.
- One in 3 Palestinian males aged 15-19 is an unskilled worker. Unemployment is a severe problem for young Palestinian men: 20% of 15-19-year-olds cannot find paid work.
- 20% of Palestinian females marry between the ages of 15-19. More than 1 in 10 subsequently divorce.
- According to the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF): “Conditions have rarely been worse for Palestinian children.” One in 10 Palestinian children now suffer from stunted growth due to compromised health, poor diet and nutrition and 50% of Palestinian children are anemic, and 75% of those under 5 suffer from vitamin A deficiency.
- UNICEF claims that roadblocks, barriers, checkpoints and soldiers are impeding health workers and patients, including child patients, from accessing health centers across the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Delivery of medication and equipment are also severely affected.
- On March 8th, 2007 Khaled Daud Faqih died at a checkpoint between the village of Kafr’Ain and the city of Ramallah. His parents were trying to take him to Ramallah hospital, but were detained at a checkpoint by Israeli soldiers. Khaled Daud Faqih was 6 months old.
- Rising poverty and unemployment is affecting school attendance across Palestine. In the 2005/6 school year the number of students whose families could not afford the NIS 50 ($11) school fee doubled from 29,000 to 56,000.
- Up to 67% of families are living in poverty across the West Bank. In Gaza poverty rates have spiraled to 85% this year, severely affecting every aspect of children’s lives.
- Increasing numbers of Palestinian children are now working to support their families instead of attending school. Palestinian children under the age of 14 can cross Israeli checkpoints without permits, and at least one thousand Palestinian children now cross into Israel every day, to work in garbage tips salvaging glass and metal. More than half of the Palestinian children who work in Israel, or Palestine, do not attend school at all.

Children Killed in Conflict

- Since September 2000, approximately 883 Palestinian children have been killed in the Occupied Territories. The majority of these children were shot and killed by the Israeli military. However, Israeli settlers have also shot and killed Palestinian children.
- 124 Palestinian children were killed in 2006, more than twice the number killed the previous year. From January–July 2007, 31 children were killed. The vast majority of child deaths in Palestine are caused by live ammunition shots to the head or chest, generally indicative of an Israeli “shoot to kill” policy.
- On July 4th 2007 Israeli troops shot and killed a 15-year-old Palestinian boy in Hebron. Ahmad Abed Al-Muhsin Skafi was shot 4 times in his upper torso. Israeli troops then allowed a military dog to maul the boy’s dead body, tearing his intestines from his stomach and mutilating his right hand.
- 20,000 Palestinian children have been injured since September 2000. Almost 1,500 of them sustained life-long disabilities.

Child Arrests and International Law

- International law states that child imprisonment should be used as a last resort. However the Israeli military routinely arrest and detain Palestinian children.
- Since September 2002 approximately 5,200 Palestinian children have been arrested by the Israeli military. Israel continues to prosecute all children in military courts, to use imprisonment as a first resort, to deny children prompt access to a lawyer, to elicit confessions under interrogation and torture and to attempt to recruit child detainees as collaborators with Israel’s secret security agency. These actions are all explicitly in violation of Article 40 of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Israel has signed.
- Seven hundred Palestinian children were arrested by the Israeli military during 2006.
- There are now approximately 426 Palestinian children being held in Israeli detention. They regularly receive lengthy terms of imprisonment for minor offences such as stone throwing.
- Israeli Military Order 132 defines a Palestinian child as a person under the age of 16. Therefore Palestinians over the age of 16 are sentenced as adults and imprisoned with adults. This law discriminates against Palestinian children and is contrary to the UN Convention on the Rights of Child, which defines a child as under 18. Israelis under the age of 18 are legally defined and treated as children.

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