Status of Palestinian Children's Rights

Israel's violations of the right to life and security and the rights of children deprived of their liberty during the second Intifada.


I. Introduction
II. Right to Life and Security
III. Rights of Children Deprived of Their Liberty
IV: Conclusion
ANNEX I: Child Fatalities
ANNEX II: Palestinian Child Political Prisoners

I. Introduction 

Since the beginning of the Palestinian uprising against occupation, or Intifada, on 29 September 2000, Palestinian children have suffered an unprecedented series of human rights violations as a result of Israeli military and settler activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Hundreds of children have been killed, thousands injured and arrested, and hundreds of thousands of others exposed to repeated violence, denied an adequate standard of living, and denied the right to education and adequate health care.

These violations are not the result of new measures that Israel has implemented in response to the Intifada. Rather, they are the result of Israel’s intensification of pre-existing policies implemented in the OPT that are aimed towards controlling Palestinian land and the movement of persons and goods in these areas.

Israeli restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement since September 2000, along with Israeli military actions in the OPT, has caused a dramatic downturn of the Palestinian economy and a significant decline in the Palestinian standard of living. An estimated 60 – 70% of the Palestinian workforce is unemployed and over half the population is reliant upon direct food aid. Pre-existing conditions have been exacerbated in many parts of the West Bank since 2002 due to Israel’s ongoing construction of the West Bank Segregation Wall.

Constituting over half the population, and as the most vulnerable and dependent sector of society, Palestinian children are disproportionately affected by Israeli policies. Inability to access medical care, poverty levels that affect nutritional intake and interruptions in some immunization programs have all lead to an overall decrease in the status of children’s health and an increase in malnutrition and anaemia rates. Spiralling poverty, curfews and closures, the devastation of basic infrastructure, the ever-present threat of violence and the deliberate destruction of homes and schools have provoked a serious decline in the quality of education and the loss of school days.

In 1991, Israel became a State Party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). In 2002, upon its initial review of Israel’s compliance with the CRC, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child underlined the applicability of the Convention in the OPT and Israel’s responsibility to implement its provisions therein. Likewise, in its 9 July 2004 Advisory Opinion concerning the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the International Court of Justice affirmed the CRC’s applicability to Palestinian areas under Israeli occupation.

In spite of Israel’s clear and well defined legal obligation to respect and ensure Palestinian children’s rights, Israel continues to deny the applicability of human rights treaties to the OPT while its military forces simultaneously perpetrate systematic violations of Palestinian human rights as they enforce policies sanctioned by the government of Israel.

This report covers the period from 29 September – 30 June 2004 and focuses on violations of the right to life and violations suffered by children deprived of their liberty. It is based on DCI/PS documentation and adopts a rights based approach, examining Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children during this period through the lens of the CRC, the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.

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