User:OneGuy/Children and minors in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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Since the start of the modern Israeli-Palestinian conflict, violence has been employed by both sides as a tool of political and physical conquest, resistance and retaliation.


Since the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa intifada in September 2000, which marked the beginning of the most recent upsurge in violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at least 603 Palestinian and 112 Israeli minors (under the age of 18) have been killed, according to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem [1].



Data before the beginning of the first Intifada is unreliable, and thus will be omitted from this record. During the first Intifada, 237 Palestinian children were killed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) [2]. On 13 September 1993, the Oslo accords were signed, marking the end of the first Intifada.gdhdfhg Between 13 September 1993 and the beginning of the Al-Aqsa (second) Intifada, 44 Palestinian children were killed by IDF soldiers, and another 10 by Israeli civilians. During the same period, 13 Israeli children were killed by Palestinian civilians [3].

Since the beginning of the violence of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, there have been 603 Palestinian children killed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights monitoring group, reported that of these 603 Palestinian children killed, 529 (87.7%) were not involved in any hostilities when they were killed, with ambiguous data on another 31 children.

According to the Palestine Section of Defence for Children International, of the "595 children killed [by 30 June 2004], 383, or 64.4%, died as a result of Israeli air and ground attacks, during assassination attempts, or when Israeli soldiers opened fire randomly" and "212 children, or 35.6%, died as a result of injuries sustained during clashes with Israeli military forces" [4].


The first acts of Palestinian violence specifically targeting Israeli children were committed in the 1970s. See Ma'alot massacre, Avivim school bus massacre, Kiryat Shmona massacre. About 70% of the Israeli children were killed by Palestinian suicide bombings and others were killed in shootings, other bomb attacks on cars, or public buses. Some examples of that include,

  • A suicide bomb attack in front of a crowded discotheque late Friday on 1 June 2001 killed 21 people. Twelve of the 21 people who were killed were under-18. The armed wing of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas claimed responsibility.
  • A suicide bombing attack on 2 March 2002, detonated next to a group of women waiting with their children and husbands to leave a nearby synagogue, killed 12 people, including two sisters aged 6 and 2, and their four cousins, aged between 18 months and seventeen years.



It is estimated that two-thirds of all injuries are to Palestinian minors (those under 18 years of age). Defence for Children International estimates that from the beginning of the first intifada and until April 2003, at least 4 816 Palestinian children were injured, with the majority of injuries happening as a result of Israeli army activity, and a small fraction of those injuries being at the hands of Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip [5] [6] [7].

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), between August 1989 and August 1993, 1 085 persons treated in its clinics had been shot in the head, 545 of whom were under sixteen, and 97 of whom were under the age of six[2]. A study by the Association of Israeli and Palestinian Physicians for Human Rights (PHR-Israel) reveals that during the five years of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, a child under the age of six was shot in the head every two weeks[3].

Another cause of injury has been unexploded ordinance (UXO). Since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, at least 11 Palestinians under the age of 17 have been injured by Israeli security forces' munitions' remnants. The large majority of incidents involving unexploded ordinance occurred in the Gaza Strip.


to be written



In October, 2004, 338 Palestinian minors were reported by Defence for Children International (DCI) to be under arrest by the Israeli security forces. Though B'Tselem's data from the same period was not available, B'Tselem has not reported more than 252 Palestinian minors in Israeli custody at any point since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada (which happened in February, 2004) [8] [9].

Still, DCI has estimated that there have been 2 650 Palestinian child prisoners since the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000 [10], which has raised concern among several Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights groups.


The Israeli settlers living in Area C of the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip are subject to Israeli law. They are not subject to PA security force jurisdiction and cannot be arrested by them.



In a United Nations report, Economic, social and cultural rights - The right to food, Special Rapporteur Jean Ziegler stated that in the Palestinian Territories "over 22 per cent of children under 5 are now suffering from malnutrition and 15.6 per cent from acute anaemia, many of whom will suffer permanent negative effects on their physical and mental development as a result." According to the World Bank, food consumption in the Palestinian Territories has fallen by more than 25 per cent per capita, and "food shortages particularly of proteins, [are] widely reported" [11].

According to the British relief agency Oxfam, "before the Intifada, 95% of (Palestinian) women gave birth in hospitals". Since the beginning of the intifada, Oxfam reports that this number has dropped to 50%, which it attributed to the network of closures, checkpoints and curfews imposed by the Israeli army. During the same period, the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported a 56% increase in stillbirths [12].


The quality of medical care in Israel is significantly better than anywhere in the West Bank and Gaza. Irwin Mansdorf, a member of Task Force on Medical and Public Health Issues, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, points out the "routine... care that Palestinians continue to receive, even today after years of conflict, in Israeli hospitals and from Israeli physicians. Palestinians receive care in Israel that they could not receive in any neighboring Arab country. In the last few months alone nearly 200 Palestinian children who were referred under a joint Israeli-Palestinian programme to treat children with serious medical conditions have already undergone major surgery at Israeli hospitals at no cost to the families. Another 350-400 Palestinian children have undergone free diagnostic testing."

Simon Fellerman mentions a similar program called Saving Children. "Started by the Peres Peace Center, this programme enables hundreds of Palestinian children to receive free medical care, in particular cardiac surgery, from Israeli surgeons."

Psychological morbidity[edit]


With no end in sight to the violence and uncertainty of the Palestinian intifada, researchers are finding high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder among Israeli and Palestinian children.

According to some researchers, the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder among Palestinian children is about 70 per cent. [13] In one report, the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry estimated the rate of psychological morbidity in the southern region of Bethlehem in the West Bank, to be 42.3% among Palestinian children [14]. The rate for boys was 46.3% and for girls, 37.8%. This rate, the study reported, was twice the rate of psychological morbidity in the Gaza strip.

The study concluded that "Palestinian children in the southern Bethlehem region of the West Bank, Palestine, have an unusually high rate of emotional and behavioural problems", and would require "large-scale interventions ... to overcome the deleterious effects of these levels of psychological morbidity".

The study also noted that all data was collected in July, 2000, two months before the commencement of the Al-Aqsa intifada, and the accompanying significant upsurge of violence.


Herzog Hospital’s Israel Centre for the Treatment of Psychotrauma, in Jerusalem, and the UJA-Federation of New York held a conference to examine the effects of terrorism on children in Israel and the United States. Their study shows that despite nearly four years of ongoing terrorism, Israeli children have shown resilience for coping with trauma and pressing on with their lives. [15]

Nevertheless, according to one Israeli child psychiatrist, in Jerusalem, the city hit hardest by Palestinian violence, about half the children experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, two to three times higher than the rate of children suffering from other causes of trauma. A recent study by Herzog’s trauma centre found that 33 per cent of Israeli youth have been affected personally by terrorism, either by being at the scene of an attack or by knowing someone injured or killed by terrorists. Seventy per cent of those surveyed reported increased subjective fear or hopelessness.[16].



According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), some 300 Palestinian schools have been damaged in the conflict. In 2003, 580 schools were periodically forced to close, and some schools remain closed after being declared military outposts by the Israeli army [17]


to be written



According B'Tselem, since Al Aqsa intifada, "34 Palestinians were killed by Israeli civilians, including Four minors: Two were age 17, One was age 14 and One was a Two month- old baby girl." Besides these killings, several other incidents of settler violence have been reported by international eyewitnesses. In one such case, according to the Christian Peacemaker Team [CPT], "young Palestinian girls have been targeted by stone-throwing youths. Some 20 young Israeli settlers attacked an 11-year-old girl. The girl was injured and taken to the local medical clinic after being hit by a stone in her neck. A 15-year-old girl was beaten to the ground and kicked by a settler man." CPT claims that Israeli soldiers usually do not prevent these attacks.

Violence against settlers[edit]

About 26% of Israeli minors killed lived in the Israeli settlements in West Bank and Gaza. According to Miriam Shapira, the director of an emergency crisis centre for West Bank settlers, "almost every school has students who have experienced close losses. One school had 20 students who had lost a parent in terrorist attacks. About half of the teachers also have had a close relative killed or were themselves involved in an attack." [18]

Israeli response[edit]

The Israeli response to the deaths, injuries and arrests of Palestinian children has been mixed. Many individuals and organizations within Israel have condemned what they claim is a systemic disregard for the well-being of Palestinian children. Others, including the Israeli government and the Israeli Defence Forces, have expressed sympathy but deferred responsibility and blame to the Palestinians. This deferment has been on four primary grounds: that the deaths of children are a regrettable consequence of war; that Islamic militants use children has human shields or deliberately locate themselves in civilian areas during fighting; that children are used as child suicide bombers by Palestinian militant organizations; and that children engage in acts of extreme violence toward Israeli forces and civilians.

Several Israeli and international human rights groups have refuted the latter two claims by collecting statistics that have shown the majority (between 64.4% and 87.7%) of Palestinian child fatalities were killed in circumstances in which they were clearly not involved in any hostilities or clashes with Israeli forces.

The Code of Conduct of the IDF explicitly prohibits targeting non-combatants and dictates proportional force. It also stipulates that soldiers "use their weapons and force only for the purpose of their mission, only to the necessary extent and will maintain their humanity even during combat. IDF soldiers will not use their weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants or prisoners of war, and will do all in their power to avoid causing harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property."

Israelis also claim that children themselves are not the target of the attack, but they are often killed because Islamic militants often use residential areas as base for their attacks.

According to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers' 2004 Global Report on the Use of Child Soldiers, there have been at least nine documented suicide attacks involving Palestinian minors between October 2000 and March 2004, "[t]here was no evidence of systematic recruitment of children by Palestinian armed groups. However, children are used as messengers and couriers, and in some cases as fighters and suicide bombers in attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians. All the main political groups involve children in this way, including Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine." [19].

"Palestinian fatalities... have been consistently and overwhelmingly (over 95 percent) male.", according to the report by Herzliya-based International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism The al-Aqsa Intifada – An Engineered Tragedy (summary) that "provides a breakdown of those killed by age, gender, and combatant status" and says that frequently "...numbers distort the true picture: They lump combatants in with noncombatants, suicide bombers with innocent civilians, and report Palestinian "collaborators" murdered by their own compatriots as if they had been killed by Israel." (full report)

Palestinian response[edit]

to be written

International response[edit]

International response to reports of Palestinian child death, injury and arrest has been mixed. The United States, Micronesia and a few other nations have consistently voted against United Nations General Assembly resolutions condemning Israel's treatment of Palestinian civilians, calling the resolutions biased and unhelpful. The United States has also vetoed many United Nations Security Council resolutions on the same grounds.

Professor of Georgetown University William O'Brien wrote about active participation of Palestinian children in the First Intifada: "It appears that a substantial number, if not the majority, of troops of the intifada are young people, including elementary schoolchildren. They are engaged in throwing stones and Molotov cocktails and other forms of violence." (William V. O'Brien, Law and Morality in Israel's War With the PLO' New York: Routledge, 1991)

Since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, many human rights and non-governmental organizations have raised concerns over Israel's treatment of Palestinian civilians, and specifically children. Some groups, such as UNICEF, Amnesty International, B'Tselem and others, as well as some notable individuals such as the British writer Derek Summerfield have condemned Israeli practices as violations of international law and human rights conventions, and have called for Israel to meet the obligation of every government and its institutions to protect children from violence in accordance with the Geneva conventions. These condemnations have been dismissed by the Israeli government as unjustified and out of context.


In one of its reports, Amnesty International (AI) – a critic of human rights abuses by any group or individual – accused Israeli forces of inadequately investigating hundreds of killings of children by the Israeli army since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada. It also called for thorough, independent, transparent and impartial investigations by judicial authorities.

Amnesty International claimed that the Israeli government used "excessive, disproportionate and reckless force against unarmed Palestinians and in densely populated residential areas", and that such practices "frequently result in the killing and injuring of unarmed civilians, including children."


Many individuals have contributed to the discussion and debate on Israeli violence against Palestinian children. In one editorial published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on October 16, 2004, Derek Summerfield, an honorary senior lecturer at London's Institute of Psychiatry, argued that "the Israeli army, with utter impunity, has killed more unarmed Palestinian civilians since September 2000 than the number of people who died on September 11, 2001". He also speculated that the killing of Palestinian children might be deliberate, since "two thirds of [children killed] died from small arms fire, directed in over half of cases to the head, neck and chest — the sniper's wound".

These allegations caused wave of responses on the pages of the BMJ and elsewhere. In her response BMJ Engaging In Malpractice, Beth Goodtree, free-lance writer and winner of the 2004 Israel Hasbara Award [20], noted that Summerfield "does not state... the breakdown of what type of person was killed - terrorist or civilian. Nor does he give the source for his 'facts'." Basing on the Fourth Geneva Convention, she argues that "a combatant hiding among a civilian population may not use said population as a human shield and is responsible for any casualties or deaths incurred. This means that the Arabs themselves are responsible for all of their civilian casualties, since they never, ever engage in lawful warfare to include the wearing of uniforms (to thus distinguish themselves from civilian populations), or stage operations and barracks, as well as retreats to non-civilian areas. In each case of Israeli military action, said action was taken in response to Arab acts of war against the Israeli civilian population."


  1. Palestine Section of Defence for Children International: 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 (29 September 2000 - 30 June 2004)
  2. Amira Hass, Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land under Siege (Owl Books, 2000) ISBN 0805057404
  3. Association of Israeli and Palestinian Physicians for Human Rights (PHR-Israel), Intifada-Related Head Injuries and Rehabilitation of the Head-Injured, Tel-Aviv, July 1995.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Category:Terrorism Category:Israeli-Palestinian conflict