The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was ratified by Israel in 1991 and by Palestine in 2014, making both state parties bound by the obligations set out in the CRC.1 The CRC provides children with a distinct set of rights covering all aspects of a child’s life. The CRC applies to Palestinian children in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), which comprise the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. As the occupying state, Israel has a general responsibility under international conventions, including the CRC, for the safety, welfare and human rights protection of civilians living in the OPT.
The incidents and statistics outlined in this bulletin have principally been collated from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (in Gaza). They engage specific rights of the CRC which are also highlighted in this bulletin. Some of these incidents raise serious concerns that state parties have breached obligations to protect and realise children’s rights provided by the CRC. This includes an overarching obligation of the CRC to ensure the best interests of the child are a primary consideration in all decisions and actions that affect children.
In addition to providing a broad overview of the landscape of serious human rights incidents affecting children in the oPt over the reporting period, this specific bulletin concludes with an in-focus section that looks at the issue of denial and delay of first aid treatment.
LPHR gives special thanks to Emma Fullerton and Melanie Waite for their excellent work preparing this bulletin.
14 Palestinian children were killed across the oPt.
The majority of these 14 fatalities occurred during alleged attacks on Israeli forces, settlers or civilians. Some of the shootings raise concerns of alleged excessive use of force and unlawful killing by Israeli forces (for more on this issue, please see page 5 of LPHR’s bulletin for the reporting period 4 August – 26 October). These killings represent a continued upsurge in the number of child fatalities across the oPt since October 2015; LPHR’s last bulletin identified 14 Palestinian children killed between 5 October and 25 October.
17-year-old ‘Izz-al-Din Nadi Abu-Shakhdam was fatally shot by Israeli forces, reportedly as he arrived at a bus stop near the ‘Gush Etzion’ settlement, on 27 October. Israeli authorities allege that Abu-Shakhdam attacked a settler but the circumstances of the incident remain unclear.
A Palestinian infant died as a direct result of tear gas inhalation in Bethlehem, according to medical sources, on 30 October.
17-year-old Mahmoud Nazzal was fatally shot by Israeli forces, reportedly as he ran unarmed towards al-Jalama crossing in Jenin, crying ‘Allah Akbar’, on 31 October.
16-year-old Ahmed Abu al-Rob was fatally shot by Israeli forces stationed at al-Jalama crossing on 2 November. It is reported that Ahmed pulled a knife out when asked to pull up his clothes by soldiers.
16-year-old Sadeq Gharbiya was fatally shot by Israeli forces at the Wadi Nar checkpoint, Jerusalem, on 10 November. According to Israeli media reports, the boy attempted to stab Israeli security forces, however, the circumstances of the incident remain unclear.
Three children were killed in one week during alleged attacks. A 16-year-old girl, Ashraqat Taha Qatnani and a 16-year-old boy, Alaa’ Khalil Hashash in separate incidents in Nablus on 22 November.
14-year-old Hadel Wajih ‘Awwad was killed, and her 16-year-old cousin N.A was severely wounded, when Israeli police shot them in Jerusalem on 23 November. The girls had allegedly attacked an Israeli civilian with scissors, causing minor injuries. Human rights organisations have raised concerns about unjustified use of lethal force, arguing that the girls did not pose a mortal threat when they were shot and could have been apprehended without the use of live fire. According to B’tselem, security camera footage shows a police officer shoot the 16-year-old as she lies motionless on the ground. Reportedly, an Israeli criminal investigation into the shooting and injuring of the 16 year-old has been opened. However, the investigation will reportedly not address the killing of the 14-year-old. This is the first investigation into the conduct of Israeli forces in responding to the wave of Palestinian attacks and alleged attacks which have taken place since 1 October 2015.
16-year-old Ibrahim Dawoud died on 25 November following injuries sustained when he was shot with live ammunition by Israeli forces during clashes near the Ramallah-DCO checkpoint on 11 November.
17-year-old Ayman Samih al-‘Abbasi was shot dead with live ammunition by Israeli forces while he was participating in a demonstration against the death of Basam Salah in Ras al-‘Amoud neighbourhood, east of the East Jerusalem’s Old City, on 29 November.
16-year-old Ma’moun al-Khatib was shot dead by Israeli forces in Hebron on 1 December. Israeli forces allege that Ma’moun attempted to carry out a stabbing attack.
16-year-old Mostafa Fadel Abdul Men’em Fanoun was shot dead by Israeli forces at a military checkpoint in Hebron on 4 December. Israeli forces claim that Mostafa attempted to stab soldiers.
- 15-year-old Abdulluh Nasasrah was shot dead by Israeli forces on 17 December. Israeli forces claim that Abdulluh attempted to carry out a stabbing .
- 17-year-old, Nour al-Deen Sabanah, attacked a military jeep on the main road in the centre of Hawwarah village, south of Nablus.
Article 6(1) of the CRC states that every child has the inherent right to life. Any incident where a Palestinian child is killed involves a grave violation of their right to live, survive and develop healthily under Article 6 of the CRC. Part of providing meaningful protection under the CRC involves review of and accountability for child deaths. To fulfil its obligations under international law, it is necessary that Israel opens credible investigations into each of the killings above.
Article 40 of the CRC deals with approaches to children who are alleged to have breached criminal law, and outlines a number of due process rights afforded to children. Article 40 states: ‘State Parties recognise the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognised as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child’s respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and which takes into account the child’s age and the desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in society.’ When read in conjunction with Article 6(2), which provides that State Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child, it is abundantly clear that a suspected policy or practice of lethally shooting at children who are not posing an imminent, mortal threat would amount to a significant violation of the CRC.
At least 982 Palestinian and 3 Israeli children were injured.
Between 27 October- 2nd November, at least 139 children were injured in the oPt, the vast majority during protests and confrontations with Israeli forces.
On 30 October in Gaza, an 11-year-old Palestinian was injured by an unexploded ordnance.
During the week of 3-9 November, protests and clashes saw at least 107 children injured by Israeli forces across the oPt.
Between 10-16th November, 2 Palestinian and 1 Israeli child were injured during attacks and alleged attacks. On 13 November, a Palestinian man injured an Israeli child when he opened fire at an Israeli vehicle in Hebron. On the same day, two Palestinian children, aged 12 and 13-years-old, were seriously injured after they stabbed and injured an Israeli security guard on the light rail in Pisgat Ze’ev settlement in East Jerusalem. The same week saw 203 children injured in clashes with Israeli forces. Clashes erupted during protests and a punitive demolition.
Between 17-23 November, at least 302 children were injured by Israeli forces, the vast majority in protests and confrontations in the West Bank.
A 14 year old herder was injured when attacked by settlers in Tubas.
Between 1-14 December, an Israeli baby and a 16 year-old Palestinian were injured during attacks and alleged attacks.
A 15-year-old boy was physically assaulted by a group of settlers in Hebron.
Between 15-28 December, at least 225 children were injured by Israeli forces during three demonstrations near the Gaza fence, a search and arrest operation in Qalandiya Refugee Camp in Jerusalem and in confrontations in Ramallah.
Article 15(1) of the CRC provides for the rights of the child to freedom of peaceful assembly. Article 3(2) of the CRC affords children with the protection and care necessary for their well-being.
Incidents of settler violence affecting Palestinian children included:
On 22 December 2015, a group of settlers moved into al-Dhhour area, east of Beitlellow village, northwest of Ramallah. They fired two gas canisters into a house, causing a toddler to suffer tear gas inhalation.
A 14-year-old herder was injured when attacked by settlers in Tubas.
A 15-year-old boy was physically assaulted by a group of settlers in Hebron.
Unimpeded regular occurrences of violence against Palestinian families suggests that Article 3(2) of the CRC, which provides that states should ensure the protection and care of children as is necessary for their well-being, is being breached. Furthermore, Article 39 of the CRC stipulates that states should take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of abuse and that such recovery and reintegration should take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.
943 incursions into the West Bank by Israeli forces saw approximately 219 children arrested. Such arrests typically follow a raid on the child’s home. One child was handed a summons to report to the Israeli intelligence service at Ofer detention facility. In Gaza, 9 fishermen including a child were arrested at sea. Additionally, 16 children were arrested at checkpoints throughout the oPt.
Article 37(b) of the CRC stipulates that no child shall be deprived of his or her liberty arbitrarily and that the arrest of a child shall be used only as a last resort. Article 3 of the CRC stipulates that the best interests of the child should be considered when children are dealt with through administrative bodies and the courts of law. The high number of search and arrest operations, involving raids on family homes, suggest that the best interests of the child are not being considered, as home raids are likely to be highly traumatic for children.
Disruption to education included:
77 students and 4 teachers in two schools in Hebron suffered tear gas inhalation during clashes at a nearby checkpoint.
Two raids by Israeli forces, also involving Israeli settlers, took place at Al Lubban ash Sharqiya girls school and Burin boys school in Nablus, severely disrupting classes.
A demolition or stop work order was issued against a donor-funded kindergarten in a herding community in Area C.
Of 570 Palestinians injured, including at least 107 children, in clashes during 3-9 November, nearly 30% occurred next to the Khaduri University in Tulkarem, where students clashed with Israeli forces permanently stationed next to the university.
A number of ad hoc checkpoints and obstacles in the West Bank resulted in long delays and impeded access to services, including educational facilities, throughout the reporting period, affecting tens of thousands of people.
Incidents of obstruction of Palestinian movement and intimidation by settlers were reported, including the prevention of children and teachers from reaching a school in Hebron.
During military incursions into Bethlehem, Israeli forces raided the office of Zakat Bethlehem Central Committee in al-Ikhaa’ Islamic School, breaking the doors, breaking into two safes and confiscating documents. The Committee reportedly offers services to 1,200 orphans and hundreds of families.
School students suffered tear gas inhalation as they left school, near checkpoint 160 (between southern Hebron and al-Ibrahimi Mosque) when Israeli officers fired tear gas canisters at them, apparently in response to stone throwing.
As part of incursions into the West Bank, Israeli forces raided al-Majaz School and al-Fakhit School. Additionally, soldiers detained teachers from Shahd al-Batam School and confiscated a teacher’s car, fining him NIS 1,000.
Article 28 of the CRC recognizes that education should be accessible to all children on the basis of equal opportunity, obliging Israel to ensure that children in the oPt have unrestricted access to education. The aforementioned raids on schools and movement restrictions suggest that Article 28 is being breached.
DISPLACEMENT & DEMOLITIONS
At least 136 children were displaced.
Between 1 October- 14 December, Israeli authorities carried out 14 punitive demolitions, displacing 54 children. Punitive demolitions involve the destruction of the homes of families to Palestinians suspected of attacks on Israelis. On 16 November, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the oPt called for an end to punitive house demolitions, deeming them an ‘inherently unjust’ ‘form of collective penalty’, ‘as they effectively punish not only the alleged perpetrators but also people (relatives, neighbours) for acts they have not individually committed. Collective penalties are prohibited under international law.’
In addition to punitive demolitions:
Two structures were demolished in East Jerusalem for lack of Israeli-issued building permits, displacing six children. Also in East Jerusalem, a refugee family of six, including four children, have been displaced since 29 October after Israeli settlers prevented them from gaining access to their house in Batan al Hawa area of Silwan.
On four occasions in November, 13 Palestinian families, including 46 children, were temporarily displaced from their homes to make way for Israeli military training in Humsa al Buqai’a, Tubas. Humsa al Buqai’a is one of 38 Palestinian Bedouin and herding communities located in areas designated by Israeli authorities as a zone for military training. Many of these communities face repeated displacement due to military training.
Israeli authorities demolished 17 Palestinian-owned structures in five communities in Area C and East Jerusalem on grounds that they lacked building permits, displacing 12 children.
Between 17-23 November, dozens of demolition, stop work orders and verbal warnings were issued. In one case, the Israeli authorities warned six households in the Area C herding community of Fasayil al Wusta about the upcoming demolition of their residential and livelihood structures, most of which were provided by humanitarian organizations as assistance following a previous demolition in August 2015.
Israeli forces repeatedly confiscated tents provided as humanitarian assistance in response to the demolition of 14 residential tents on 26 November in the Area C herding community of Al Hadidiya. As a result, four children were displaced three times during the reporting period. Also affected was a pregnant woman who was physically assaulted by an Israeli soldier while she was trying to gather belongings prior to the demolition.
Between 1-14 December, 6 residential structures, including donor-funded tents, were demolished in Area C and East Jerusalem on the grounds of lack of building permits. The East Jerusalem demolitions resulted in the displacement of two registered refugee families, including 10 children.
Between 1-14 December, Israeli authorities served three Palestinian families with eviction orders in Silwan, East Jerusalem. This follows an Israeli court ruling in favour of the ‘Ateret Cohanim settler organization, which claims ownership over the building. The same organization initiated legal proceedings against another three families in the same neighbourhood. According to the Israeli human rights organization Ir Amim, around 130 Palestinian families in East Jerusalem are subject to legal proceedings in the context of settlement activities in the heart of Palestinian neighbourhoods.
In Area C, the Israeli authorities bulldozed a farming area next to Shufa village, on the grounds that it is ‘state land’, destroying a large tomato greenhouse, 4.5 dunums of land planted with spinach, an irrigation network, and uprooting and confiscating 150 olive and 40 lemon trees, undermining 9 families’ main source of income.
On 16 December, four Palestinian families residing in East Jerusalem received notices that Israeli settlers had initiated eviction proceedings against them, claiming ownership of their homes. According to the Israeli NGO Ir Amim, there are approximately 130 Palestinian families in and around Jerusalem’s Old City who are at risk of eviction.
In Tubas, a family was forced to dismantle an animal shelter, affecting 12, including 9 children.
Article 27 of the CRC protects children in terms of their standard of living, and seeks to ensure that this standard is adequate with respect to the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. It further adds that State Parties are responsible for taking appropriate measures to provide assistance in respect to nutrition, clothing and housing. The actions of the Israeli government in rendering children and their parents homeless and disrupting families’ livelihoods, clearly violate both the letter and the spirit of Article 27 of the CRC. Furthermore, Article 16(1) of the CRC states that no child should be subjected to arbitrary interference with his or her privacy or family.
Denial and delay of first aid treatment
On Sunday 13 December 2015, 16-year-old L.B. was shot at a checkpoint near the Kiryat Arba settlement, causing serious wounding to her legs. The young girl was shot after allegedly attempting to stab a pedestrian. The circumstances of the shooting remain unclear. Notably, she was left bleeding on the ground for 30 minutes before she was allowed medical first aid from an ambulance. Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child has the inherent right to life, and that ‘State Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child’. The delay and denial of first aid medical care to children suspected of having committed crimes runs in direct contrast to the duties and obligations promulgated by Article 6 of the Convention.
A similar situation arose in the case of 19-year-old Sa’ed Muhammed Yusef Al-Atrash, who was fatally wounded on 26th October 2015 after allegedly trying to stab Israeli Soldiers. Video footage recorded by B’Tselem documents that Sa’ed lay wounded on the ground for 30 minutes, untreated by the Israeli ambulance which had arrived at the scene. Moreover, police officers are said to have prevented locals from providing Sa’ed with emergency first aid treatment. Shortly after arriving at hospital, Sa’ed died of his injuries. This case, whilst not covered by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child because of Sa’ed’s age, serves to further illustrate a practice which allows for the obstruction or denial of access to emergency medical treatment to Palestinian children and young adults.
In this context, it’s important to note that in December 2015, the Ethical Committee of the Israel Medical Association reportedly issued new guidelines detailing the appropriate first aid response for paramedics treating the wounded. In situations of violence, the old guidelines called for the emergency medical treatment of the victim of an attack over the alleged perpetrator of the attack, regardless of the level of injury sustained by each party. The new guidelines, which were prompted by pressure from the organisation Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, appropriately take into account the principle of medical neutrality. The new guidelines dictate that treatment should be prioritised on the basis of the extent of an individual’s injuries, rather than the paramedic’s perception of who the aggressor and the victim might be. It remains to be seen what the impact of these new guidelines will be, however it is a welcomed improvement from an official ethical policy which allowed for the obstruction and delay in emergency medical treatment to those who may need it most.