Children and Armed Conflict – Report of the Secretary-General (A/75/873–S/2021/437) (Excerpts)

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Israel and the State of Palestine[1]  

  1. The United Nations verified 1,031 grave violations against 340 Palestinian and 3 Israeli children (327 boys, 13 girls) in the occupied West Bank, including East

Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and Israel. In addition, 96 grave violations against 96 children (92 boys, 4 girls) which occurred in previous years were verified at later date.

  1. The United Nations verified the recruitment of two Palestinian boys by Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza.
  2. The United Nations verified the detention of 361 Palestinian children for alleged security offences by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem (361, including 283 in East Jerusalem). Eighty-seven children reported illtreatment and breaches of due process by Israeli forces while in detention, with 83 per cent reporting physical violence.
  3. Twelve children (11 Palestinian boys, 1 Israeli boy) were killed in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem (9), in Gaza (2) and in Israel (1) by Israeli forces (8), Palestinian security forces (1), Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades (1), unidentified perpetrator (1) and explosive remnants of war (1). Of the eight Palestinian children killed in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, seven were killed by Israeli forces by live ammunition (6) and physical assault during arrest (1), during law enforcement operations (3), demonstrations and confrontations involving stone throwing (2) and Molotov cocktails (1), and a shooting attack against Israeli forces (1). The child killed by Palestinian security forces was shot with live ammunition in a law enforcement operation. One Israeli boy was killed in the occupied West Bank while being pursued by Israeli police after allegedly throwing stones at Palestinians.
  4. A total of 326 children (324 Palestinian children, 2 Israeli children; 313 boys, 13 girls) were maimed[2] in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem (304), and in Gaza (22) by Israeli forces (294), Israeli settlers (20), Palestinian armed groups (2) and unidentified Palestinian perpetrators (2) and explosive remnants of war (8).

The main causes of maiming of children by Israeli forces were tear gas inhalation (170), rubber-coated metal bullets and sponge-tipped bullets (70) and live ammunition (34). Eight children were maimed by Israeli forces during demonstrations at the Israel-Gaza perimeter fence. In Gaza, six Palestinian children were maimed during air strikes by Israeli forces on Gaza, and two Palestinian boys were maimed by a rocket fired by a Palestinian armed group landing near their home. Separately, the maiming of another 96 children (92 boys, 4 girls) by Israeli forces that occurred during demonstrations in Gaza in 2018 and 2019 was verified at a later date. Two Israeli children were maimed in stone-throwing incidents attributed to Palestinian perpetrators.

  1. The United Nations verified 30 attacks on schools (11) and hospitals (19), including on protected persons in relation to schools and/or hospitals, attributed to Israeli forces (26) and Israeli settlers (4) in Gaza (4) and the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem (26). Incidents involved air strikes (4), settler attacks (1), attacks on medical personnel (18) and threats against teachers or students (7). The

United Nations verified one incident of a school being used for military purposes in __________________

Gaza by unidentified perpetrators. Separately, 94 other interferences with health (5) or education (89) by Israeli forces (90), affecting the education of more than 6,900 Palestinian children, and Fatah’s Tanzim (4) were verified in the occupied West Bank. Most verified interferences involved Israeli force closures or denial of teachers’ and students’ access through checkpoints (39), Israeli forces firing tear gas or other weapons in and around schools (22), or threats of demolition (9). Self-identified members of Fatah’s Tanzim dismissed students and teachers from four schools owing to demonstrations.

  1. The denial of humanitarian access by Israeli forces (661) was verified in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in Gaza. Two incidents occurred in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, through the delay and/or prevention by the Israeli forces of medical care being provided to fatally injured children. The suspension of coordination between the authorities of the State of Palestine and Israel in response to the plans by Israel to annex parts of the occupied West Bank continued to pose additional obstacles to children in need of medical treatment in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Israel. Some 28 per cent of permit applications to Israeli authorities for children to exit through the Erez crossing to access specialized medical treatment outside Gaza were delayed and 3 per cent were denied, affecting 659 children (397 boys, 262 girls). Three Palestinian children died while waiting for permission to access medical care outside Gaza.

  Developments and concerns 

  1. I welcome the collaboration extended by the Israeli and Palestinian parties to my Special Representative following my request in 2019 to further examine the cases of maiming and injuries caused by Israeli forces and of the recruitment and use of children by armed groups (see A/73/907S/2019/509), reiterated in June 2020 (see A/74/845S/2020/525). I take note of the findings resulting from these consultations, which I have shared with the authorities of Israel and the State of Palestine. I welcome that both authorities reported that corrective measures had been taken and existing protection frameworks had been strengthened and that both expressed commitment to continuing to engage to better protect children. I note that investigations by Israeli authorities are ongoing and call for these investigations to follow international standards. My Special Representative will continue to engage with all parties to protect children, and I encourage the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to reinforce their dialogue with the United Nations at the country level, in particular in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
  2. While I note a decrease in grave violations in 2020, I remain deeply concerned by the number of children killed and maimed, including through the use of live ammunition during law enforcement operations, and I urge Israel to continue to investigate each case where live ammunition was used, as required by procedure, and urge the authorities to pursue accountability for violations against children.
  3. I urge the Israeli authorities to review and strengthen measures to prevent any excessive use of force, to ensure that force be used only when necessary and to minimize the effects of its forces’ operations on children and ensure accountability in all cases involving the killing and maiming of children. I further call upon Israel to better protect schools as places of learning. Taking note of the decrease in detentions, I reiterate my call upon Israel to uphold international juvenile justice standards, including use of detention as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, and end the administrative detention of children, prevent all forms of ill-treatment in detention, and halt any attempted recruitment of detained children as informants. Of concern are continued allegations of attempts to recruit detained Palestinian children as informants.
  4. I am also concerned by the two incidents of children recruited by al-Qassam Brigades. I call upon al-Qassam Brigades to cease the recruitment and use of children and to abide by its domestic and international legal obligations. I urge all Palestinian armed groups to protect children, including by preventing them from being exposed to the risk of violence or by abstaining from instrumentalizing them for political purposes.
  5. I call upon all parties to engage with the United Nations, including at the country level, to end and prevent grave violations against children and to better protect children and respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

[1] For the purposes of the present report, the present section provides information on grave violations in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and Israel.

[2] Any action that causes a serious, permanent, disabling injury, scarring or mutilation to a child.

[3] A Palestinian armed group based mainly in the Ein El Hilweh and Mieh Mieh Palestine refugee camps of Lebanon.

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Document symbol: A/75/873–S/2021/437
Document Type: Report, Secretary-General Report
Document Sources: General Assembly, Secretary-General
Country: Israel, State of Palestine
Subject: Armed conflict, Children
Publication Date: 06/05/2021
2021-06-23T18:13:48-04:00

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