Key incidents outlined in this LPHR Child Rights Bulletin covering June 2019:
255 Palestinian children in Gaza and 24 in the West Bank were injured by Israeli forces.
As of 30 June, 210 Palestinian children are in Israeli military detention.
At least 59 children were displaced following the demolition or seizure of 71 Palestinian-owned structures.
The key incidents and statistics outlined in this bulletin span a range of violation categories: ‘Fatalities’, ‘Injuries’, ‘Settler Violence’, ‘Arrests and Detention’, ‘Interference against Education’, ‘Displacement and Demolitions’. They are collated from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) and local human rights organisations: Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCIP), Al Mezan, B’Tselem, and Military Court Watch.
This bulletin outlines the specific rights of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) that apply to the key incidents affecting Palestinian children in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). As the occupying power, Israel has legal responsibilities under international conventions, including the UNCRC, for the safety, welfare and human rights protection of civilians living in the oPt. This bulletin concludes with a Further Reading section.
LPHR gives special thanks to Misha Nayak-Oliver and Maria Skotori for their excellent work preparing this bulletin.
There were no child fatalities during the reporting period. This is the first month since November 2017 during which there have been no Palestinian child fatalities, according to data collected by Defence for Children International-Palestine. Since the start of 2019, LPHR Child Rights Bulletins have recorded that a total of 17 Palestinian children have been killed as a result of Israeli military and settler presence in the oPt, including 14 children from the Gaza Strip.
Data collected by UN OCHA records that 255 Palestinian children (233 boys and 22 girls) were injured during demonstrations the Great March of Return protests in Gaza during the reporting period. The injuries were caused by the following: live ammunition, rubber bullets, tear gas canisters (hit by), tear gas inhalation, and other causes that are unspecified. At least 24 children were injured in clashes in the West Bank.
Injury incidents in June 2019 include:
Al Mezan Center For Human Rights reports that on 14 June, the sixty-first Friday of the Great March of Return, a total of 31 children in Gaza were injured by Israeli forces. Al Mezan reports that according to medical sources, one of the injured children is in a critical condition.
UN OCHA reports that on 21 and 28 June, 3 children were injured during the weekly demonstrations held in Kafr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya), against settlement expansion and settler violence. The precise nature of these injuries are unreported.
Article 3(2) of the UNCRC provides that states shall ensure children the protection and care necessary for their well-being. The excessive use of force by Israeli authorities during the Great March of Return protests constitute a clearly apparent serious violation of this important legal protection. Under international law, lethal force such as live ammunition can only be used as a last resort when there is a direct and imminent threat to life or serious injury.
Article 15(1) of the UNCRC provides for the right of the child to freedom of peaceful assembly. The excessive use of force that has been used during the ‘Great March of Return’ is a clearly apparent violation of this basic right guaranteed by the UNCRC.
Settler violence incidents in June 2019 include:
UN OCHA reports that in June a 14-year-old boy and his father were physically assaulted and injured by Israeli soldiers while trying to access their home in Ash Shuhada street, through Checkpoint 56 in the H2 area of Hebron city in the occupied West Bank.
Article 3(2) of the UNCRC provides that states should ensure the protection and care of children, as is necessary for their well-being. The Israeli human rights organisation, Yesh Din, reports that incidents of violence by Israeli civilians against Palestinians and their property are a daily occurrence throughout the West Bank but these incidents are rarely investigated properly by Israeli law enforcement. Only 3% of investigations into complaints filed by Palestinians hurt by settlers lead to convictions.
The low rate of investigations into attacks by Israeli settlers suggests that Israel is in violation of its obligations under Article 39 of the UNCRC, which stipulates that states should take all appropriate measures to promote the physical and psychological recovery of a child victim of abuse, and that such recovery should take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.
ARRESTS AND DETENTION
Between 18 June- 1 July 2019, Israeli forces conducted 155 search and arrest operations in the West Bank, arresting 13 children. As of 30 June 2019, Military Court Watch documents 210 Palestinian children in Israeli military detention.
Article 3(1) of the UNCRC obliges states to ensure that: ‘In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration’.
Article 37(b) of the UNCRC also states that no child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily and that it shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time. Please see our Further Reading section below for more on the very troubling issue the systemic maltreatment of children in military detention.
INTERFERENCE AGAINST EDUCATION
Interference against education incidents in June 2019 include:
B’Tselem reports that on 5 June 2019, at around 10:30am around ten masked settlers threw rocks at a school in the southern part of Jalud village. Some of the settlers entered the schoolyard. Five students, who are teenagers, were in the schoolyard at the time fled before the settlers came in. The settlers broke two of the cafeteria windows, the only part of the school where windows are not protected by steel mesh. The settlers then went to the olive grove across from the school and set fire to it, burning more than a thousand trees belonging to village residents. Footage of the incident has been published by B’Tselem.
Article 28(1) of the UNCRC stipulates 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 alarming attack against the school in Jalud village threatens the safety and welfare of students. If the culprits are not identified and genuinely investigated, this arguably would amounts to a violation of Article 28 (1) of the UNCRC, as the Israeli authorities would have failed in taking appropriate action to ensure that the children of Jalud village have unrestricted safe access to education.
DISPLACEMENT & DEMOLITIONS
According to a breakdown of statistics collated by UN OCHA, 71 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished or seized in June 2019, displacing 106 people, including at least 59 children.
Demolition and displacement incidents affecting children in June 2019 include:
UN OCHA reports that between 18 June and 1 July, Israeli authorities demolished or seized 27 Palestinian-owned structures in occupied East Jerusalem and Area C of the occupied West Bank citing the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, which are nearly impossible to obtain. As a result, 52 people, including 35 children, were displaced and 5,074 people were otherwise affected.
B’Tselem reports on 12 June, Israeli authorities demolished a caravan used as a home by a family of 10, including 7 children, in Khirbet Um al-Kheir (the South Hebron Hills).
B’Tselem reports that on 17 June, Israeli authorities demolished the home of a family of 12, including 7 children, in Khirbet Khilet a-Dabe’ (the South Hebron hills). A further three residential structures were demolished in Khirbet al-Halawah, leaving 21 people, including 11 children, homeless.
Article 27 of the UNCRC protects children’s right to a 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. The UNCRC 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 Government of Israel in rendering children and their parents homeless and disrupting families’ livelihoods through demolitions of homes clearly violates both the letter and the spirit of the UNCRC.
Article 18(2) of the UNCRC obliges State Parties to give appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities. Demolitions and subsequent forced displacement violate this right as it harms parents and legal guardians’ ability to fulfil their responsibilities of looking after and providing shelter for their children.
Article 16(1) of the UNCRC protects children’s right to not be subject to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family and home and Article 16(2) entitles children to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. Please see our Further Reading section below for more on the ongoing ssue of demolitions and forcible displacement.
Recurrent shooting incidents against children in the occupied Palestinian territory
We reported in last month’s Child Rights Bulletin that Israeli forces used live ammunition against children in two separate incidents at the separation barrier, when neither boy presented as a threat to life or serious injury. Since then, LPHR has submitted an urgent action letter to the Minister for the Middle East, Dr Andrew Murrison, on these two appalling incidents. Our letter includes suggested actions for the UK government to take in response to the fatal shooting of 15-year-old ‘Abdallah Gheith on 31 May 2019, and the grievous shooting ten days earlier of a 14-year-old boy, ‘MS’, which led to the amputation of his leg.
The systematic maltreatment of Palestinian children under Israeli military custody
As noted in this Child Rights Bulletin, as of 30 June, there are 210 Palestinian children being held in Israel’s military detention system. The systemic ill-treatment of Palestinian children arrested by Israeli forces is an ongoing significant child rights issue.
For more on this issue, please see LPHR’s Urgent Action letter to Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt MP, of 15 January 2019, that requests a renewed UK government impetus to challenge the systemic mistreatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention. Additionally, please see LPHR’s February 2018 parliamentary briefing on children in military detention. The comprehensive analysis in this briefing is replicated in the lead speech of Sarah Champion MP for the parliamentary debate that took place on 7 February 2018.
Displacement and demolition affecting children in occupied Palestinian territory
As noted in this Child Rights Bulletin, the demolition of buildings and displacement of Palestinian children by Israeli forces is ongoing. Please see LPHR’s Urgent Action letter to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office regarding Israel’s demolition of homes and apartments in the Palestinian community of Sur Bahir on 22 July 2019. The demolition of 10 buildings, including 70 apartments, will forcibly displace seventeen Palestinians, including an elderly couple and five children, and over 350 others will encounter massive property loss. The demolition appears to violate international humanitarian, human rights and criminal law.