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Childhood of Palestinian Children


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Disrupting Education

In the West Bank, education is compulsory for children under 15. However, Israel’s network of military checkpoints impedes the movement of all Palestinians, meaning that otherwise short journeys can take several hours. For Palestinian children that must pass through Israeli military checkpoints to reach school, this results in missed class time, as well as subjecting children to violence, intimidation, and arbitrary arrest as children must interact with Israeli military personnel on their way to school.

Palestinian children living near illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank report being subject to harassment and violence from Israeli soldiers and settlers as they travel to and from school. Settlers have also been known to attack schools with weapons and stone-throwing during the school day, creating an environment of fear at school that can impede the ability of children to learn and play.

Israeli forces' attacks on schools and other education-related incidents, including attacks on educational personnel, threats of attacks, military use of schools, and other interferences with education, significantly impacted Palestinian children's right to access education. In 2019, the United Nations documented 257 education-related incidents in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip that impacted children's right to access education.

Repeated Israeli military offensives on the Gaza Strip have severely damaged its educational infrastructure, including through the targeting of United Nations-run schools. In the last major military offensive on Gaza in 2014, Operation Protective Edge, Israel damaged at least 232 schools and destroyed 29 others.

Israel’s protracted closure of the Gaza Strip prevents essential materials for rebuilding damaged schools and constructing new facilities from entering the Gaza Strip, as well as learning materials. Fuel restrictions and poverty caused by the closure also prevent children from concentrating at school and some children drop out of school altogether as a result. Frequent power cuts force many Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip to complete their schoolwork by candlelight. Near-complete closure also prevents young people from leaving the Gaza Strip to study elsewhere, including children and young people who have acquired scholarships abroad.



Access to Healthcare

Palestinian children are denied access to health care and their right to health is negatively impacted due to Israeli closure policies, prolonged military occupation, and repeated military offensives.

Palestinian children are unable to access sufficient healthcare in the Gaza Strip, including many children left permanently disabled and with long-term trauma following Israel’s repeated military offensives on the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s closure of the Gaza Strip has plunged Gaza’s health sector into crisis. The closure restricts essential and lifesaving medical and pharmaceutical resources from entering the Gaza Strip as well as patients and companions leaving Gaza. Israeli authorities have maintained strict restrictions on travel to and from the Gaza Strip, as well as the import of vital materials, and the export of goods, blighting the economy. Egypt, too, has kept its crossing with the Gaza Strip in Rafah closed for the most part since 2013, opening it only intermittently. 

Repeated Israeli military offensives, including three particularly devastating ground and aerial assaults in 2008-2009, 2012, and 2014, devastated the Gaza Strip's infrastructure, including its healthcare system. This regular obliteration of Gaza’s infrastructure, combined with Israel’s closure policy, has created a human-made humanitarian crisis characterized by acute water and electricity shortages, further compromising the health of patients, who cannot expect treatment in sanitary conditions, or for vital and lifesaving electricity-powered machines to run without interruption. In 2018, when back-up generators failed at the Pediatric Specialized Hospital in Gaza City, medical teams had to manually ventilate four children until the machinery was fixed.

Between Israel’s decade-long closure limiting the entry of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and specialized staff, and large-scale damage to medical infrastructure during Israel’s 2014 offensive, some treatments are now entirely unavailable in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli closure policies prevent disabled Palestinian children from accessing resources that would enable them to live a full life, and traumatized children from accessing the psychosocial support they need to recover. Children who require medical treatment that cannot be provided within Gaza are frequently denied permits by Israeli authorities to leave Gaza. 



Palestinian children & Armed Conflict

Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip are at risk of violence, including accidental violence, as a result of Palestinian armed group activities; and Israel’s ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip has created an acute, human-made humanitarian crisis and deteriorating economic context within which children may be more vulnerable to recruitment, forced or voluntary, by armed groups.

In January 2021, an explosion in the northern Gaza Strip destroyed a residential building, damaged several public buildings, and caused injury to 18 Palestinian children. The building owner’s adult son had built and maintained a warehouse on the roof used to store munitions and military equipment for the Palestinian armed group, Saraya Al-Quds, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, of which he was a member.

Between January 2011 and September 2020, DCIP documented the deaths of nine children and the injury of two children who were involved with Palestinian armed groups. In several cases, the child fatalities that occurred within the context of activity by or involvement with Palestinian armed groups were accidental. 

On May 4, 2020, 17-year-old Adham Mahmoud Mohammad al-Masri, died after sustaining a gunshot wound to his chest while stationed at an Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades reconnaissance site in North Gaza. Information collected by DCIP suggests an accidental death, and that Adham was struck by “friendly fire.”

Similarly, 11-year-old Odai Mansour Abu Hassan died on July 15, 2018, when an improvised explosive device accidentally detonated on his roof. Odai’s father was a field commander in a military wing of the Fatah movement.

On April 11, 2018, 17-year-old Hashem Abdulfattah Othman Kallab, a member of the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, was traveling in a rickshaw with three others near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip when an explosive accidentally ignited, killing them all.

DCIP maintains that no person under 18 years should be recruited or used by Palestinian armed groups and all Palestinian forces and armed groups must take all necessary measures to protect civilians including not storing explosive materials and weapons in densely populated civilian areas.



Juvenile legal system

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed the Juvenile Protection Law into effect on February 4, 2016. The law unified and updated the existing juvenile justice system, bringing it in line with international child rights standards. Previously, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank had relied on a Jordanian law dating back to 1954. 

The Juvenile Protection Law updated the Palestinian juvenile legal system, recognizing minors accused of criminal offenses – those under the age of 18 – as victims in need of protection, rehabilitation, and reintegration into society, rather than as criminals deserving of punishment.

The best interests of the child serves as the guiding principle of the Juvenile Protection Law and the law mandates that children deprived of their liberty will be housed in rehabilitation facilities as opposed to prisons. The law also created juvenile courts and specialized units among the police, prosecutors, and judges for dealing with children in conflict with the law. 

However, the law has yet to be successfully implemented in full, which results in additional rights denials often significantly impacting a child's right to a childhood.


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Child Fatalities & Injuries


DCI-Palestine has been documenting Palestinian child fatalities and injuries at the hands of the Israeli military and settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since September 2000


In the West Bank, child fatalities generally occur in the context of military incursions, demonstrations against Israeli settlements or the separation barrier, or as a result of settler attacks against Palestinian children.

In the Gaza Strip, the majority of child fatalities are the result of Israeli forces' attacks and full-scale military offensives, which cause a high number of civilian casualties. In recent years, Israeli forces have increasingly shot and killed Palestinian children with live fire near the Gaza border fence during mass demonstrations.



Like fatalities, injuries in the West Bank occur as a result of military incursions, demonstrations, and settler violence.

Injuries are frequently sustained when children are arrested, transferred, and detained in interrogation centers or prisons.

In the Gaza Strip, injuries are most commonly the result of flying shrapnel produced by Israeli airstrikes or shooting at the border fence.

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Military Detentions

Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, like adults, face arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment under an Israeli military detention system that denies them basic rights.

Since 1967, Israel has operated two separate legal systems in the same territory. In the occupied West Bank, Israeli settlers are subject to the civilian and criminal legal system whereas Palestinians live under military law.

Israel applies civilian criminal law to Palestinian children in East Jerusalem. No Israeli child comes into contact with the military courts.

Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that automatically and systematically prosecutes children in military courts that lack fundamental fair trial rights and protections. Israel prosecutes between 500 and 700 Palestinian children in military courts each year.

Since 2000, Israeli military authorities have detained, interrogated, prosecuted, and imprisoned approximately 13,000 Palestinian children, according to estimates by DCIP.


Ill-treatment in the Israeli military detention system remains “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized throughout the process,” according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report Children in Israeli Military Detention Observations and Recommendations.

An average of 257 Palestinian children aged 12-17 years old were detained by Israeli authorities at any one time between 2014 and 2019, based on data released by the Israel Prison Service (IPS). During this period, an average of 48 young Palestinian children (12-15) were detained.

Children typically arrive to interrogation bound, blindfolded, frightened, and sleep deprived.

Children often give confessions after verbal abuse, threats, physical and psychological violence that in some cases amounts to torture.

Israeli military law provides no right to legal counsel during interrogation, and Israeli military court judges seldom exclude confessions obtained by coercion or torture.

A child is considered any person under 18 years, according to international norms.

Between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2019, DCIP collected sworn affidavits from 752 child detainees, describing their arrest, interrogation, and detention experiences. Of these,

Nearly 3 out of 4 Palestinian child detainees experience physical violence at the hands of Israeli forces. 

  • over half were arrested at night

  • 87% were not informed of the reason for their arrest

  • 95% had their hands and feet bound

  • 84% were blindfolded

  • 72% were subjected to physical violence 

  • 61% were subjected to verbal abuse, humiliation, or intimidation during or after their arrest

  • 48% were transferred from the place of their arrest on the floor of a military vehicle

  • 75% were strip searched

  • 46% were denied food and water

  • 32% were denied access to a toilet

  • 70% were not properly informed of their rights

  • 96% were interrogated without a family member present

  • 52% were shown or made to sign a paper in Hebrew, a language most Palestinian children do not understand

  • 35% were threatened or coerced

  • 21% were subjected to stress positions

  • 18% were detained in solitary confinement for interrogation purposes for a period of two or more days

In 1991, Israel ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which stipulates that children should only be deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort, must not be unlawfully or arbitrarily detained, and must not be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Despite various degrees of engagement by U.N. human rights bodies including the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Committee Against Torture, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, as well as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children in Armed Conflict, and numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations, Israeli authorities have persistently failed to implement practical changes to end its unlawful practices towards Palestinian child detainees. Reforms undertaken thus far have been largely cosmetic rather than substantive.


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Children used as Human Shields

International humanitarian law explicitly prohibits parties to a conflict from directing "the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objects from attacks or to shield military operations." An October 2005 ruling of the Israeli High Court of Justice also prohibits the practice.

Despite this, DCIP has documented numerous cases where Israeli forces have used Palestinian children as human shields during ground operations.

In 2014, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy was forced at gunpoint to search tunnels in the Gaza Strip for five days during Operation Protective Edge. During this time, he was interrogated, verbally and physically assaulted, and deprived of food and sleep.

At least seven children between nine and 17 years old were used as human shields by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip during the Israeli military offensive known as Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009.



Palestinian Children recruited as Informants

The primary manner in which Israeli forces seek to recruit Palestinian children is as informants, usually during interrogations.

Informants are recruited to monitor and disclose information to Israeli authorities about the activities of people living in their community. This can include providing the names of children who have thrown stones. Attempts to recruit often involve the use of threats and inducements, such as revoking a family member's work permit or a financial reward or even early release, in exchange for information.

In addition to violating international laws, such attempts violate Israeli law. Due to the sensitive nature of this issue within Palestinian society, the scale of the problem is unclear, as both children and adults may refuse to discuss the matter, fearing ostracization or punishment by their communities. 

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  • ummtaalib changed the title to Childhood of Palestinian Children

Above information from DCIP

Defense for Children International - Palestine (DCIP) is an independent, local Palestinian child rights organization dedicated to defending and promoting the rights of children living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

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