Israel and State of Palestine
- Palestinian and Israeli children continued to be severely affected by the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In 2018, the United Nations verified the highest number of Palestinian children killed (59) and injured (2,756) since 2014. Six Israeli children were verified as having been injured.
- The United Nations verified the recruitment and use of three 17-year-old boys in Gaza (two) and the West Bank (one) by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades, Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades and an unidentified Palestinian armed group (one each). The United Nations received testimony from three children, between the ages of 15 and 16, that Israeli forces attempted to recruit them as informants.
- As of December, 203 Palestinian children were held over security offences by the Israeli forces, including 114 in pretrial detention and/or being detained during trial, and 87 serving a sentence. The United Nations received affidavits from 127 Palestinian boys who, during interviews with the United Nations, reported ill-treatment and breaches of due process during their arrest, transfer and detention. The United Nations documented four cases of the administrative detention of Palestinian children in 2018.
- A total of 59 Palestinian children (57 boys, 2 girls), some as young as 18 months old, were killed in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem (8) and Gaza (51), with most of the casualties attributed to Israeli forces (56) and one to an Israeli settler. In addition, one child was killed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades, and one boy was killed by an improvised explosive device accidentally detonated at his home by his father, an Al-Aqsa Brigade member. Of these 59 children, 33 boys and 1 girl were killed by Israeli forces during demonstrations at the Gaza fence, 88 per cent of whom (30) were shot by live ammunition to the upper body, while reportedly posing no imminent threat of death or serious injury to Israeli forces, and another 2 boys died after being struck in the head by tear gas canisters. Three children were killed by Israeli forces air strikes in Gaza. In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, eight boys were killed by Israeli forces, five of whom were shot during demonstrations and clashes.
- The United Nations verified that 2,756 Palestinian children were injured (2,514 boys, 242 girls) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, an increase compared with 2017 (1,160), owing to injuries sustained during the Great March of Return. In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, 1,421 were injured by Israeli forces (1,398) and settlers (23) in the context of demonstrations, clashes and search and arrest operations, including 988 injured as a result of inhaling tear gas, subsequently requiring medical treatment. Three boys were injured while committing or allegedly attempting to commit stabbing attacks against Israelis. In Gaza, 1,335 child casualties were attributed to Israeli forces, 1,276 of whom were injured between March and December during demonstrations at the Gaza fence, 62 per cent injured by live ammunition (629) or shrapnel (167) and 35 per cent by tear gas inhalation (443). Twenty children had limbs amputated.
- Six Israeli children were injured, including two girls injured in their home by a rocket fired indiscriminately by a Palestinian armed group.
- Two schools in Gaza were damaged during ground attacks by Israeli forces, and a further four schools were damaged during air strikes by Israeli forces. A mortar launched by Palestinian armed groups from Gaza exploded in the yard of a kindergarten near Sderot, a town located in southern Israel. No injuries were reported in connection with those attacks.
- The United Nations verified 118 incidents of interference with education in the Occupied Palestinian Territory by Israeli forces (113) and Israeli settlers (5), affecting 23,188 children. Among those were two verified incidents of the military use of a school by Israeli forces. More than half of verified interferences involved Israeli forces firing live ammunition, tear gas or sound grenades in and around schools, mostly in the context of clashes or military operations. Of particular concern is the fact that Israeli forces did not always intervene when settlers entered Urif village and attacked the secondary school. Attacks on the school in Urif have been verified since 2012.
- Conflict escalations also caused significant disruptions to children’s education in Gaza and southern Israel, when schools were closed for the safety of students and educators as a result of air strikes by Israeli forces and indiscriminate rocket fire by Palestinian armed groups. For example, school closures affected an estimated 63,000 children in southern Israel and 637,195 children in Gaza during escalations of conflict on 12 and 13 November.
- Three health facilities were damaged in Israeli forces air strikes. Three members of medical personnel were killed and a further 553 injured by Israeli forces, including 375 by tear gas inhalation, while providing medical services during Gaza demonstrations. Seven interferences with health services were documented in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, due to Israeli forces incursions into or clashes near health facilities, as well as attacks by Israeli settlers on medical vehicles and personnel.
- With respect to applications to Israeli authorities for children to cross into Israel for medical treatment outside Gaza, approval for 24 per cent of such applications was reported as having been delayed, affecting 1,079 boys and 689 girls. Applications on behalf of children injured in Gaza demonstrations were approved at a very low rate (22 per cent approval compared with the average of 75 per cent for other cases involving children).
Developments and concerns
- I am extremely concerned by the significant rise in the maiming of and injuries caused to children across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including by tear gas inhalation requiring medical treatment. I request my Special Representative to further examine the cases of maiming and injuries caused by Israeli forces, and urge Israel to immediately put in place preventive and protective measures to end the excessive use of force. I reiterate my call upon Israel to uphold international juvenile justice standards, as well as to cease the use of administrative detention for children and end all forms of ill-treatment in detention, and to cease any attempted recruitment of detained children as informants.
- I urge all parties to apply all feasible measures to ensure the protection of and care for children affected by armed conflict and to refrain from the excessive use of force. I call on all parties to engage constructively with the United Nations to prevent future violations.
- I urge all Palestinian actors to refrain from encouraging children’s participation in violence. I call upon the al-Quds and al-Qassam Brigades to immediately cease the recruitment and use of children, and I further request my Special Representative to further examine recruitment and use by armed groups.