Since 2007, a UNICEF-led working group has consolidated efforts to report on the impacts of armed conflict on children in Israel and the State of Palestine. The bulletin is published on a bi-monthly basis highlighting trends and patterns in grave violations against children. Members of the working group include: Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Save the Children, DCI-Palestine, B'Tselem, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, War Child Holland, OCHA, OHCHR, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNRWA and WHO.
This edition covers the third quarter of 2013.
On 11 July 2013, a five year old boy was arrested in Hebron and accused of throwing a stone. The young boy, who is below the age of criminal responsibility, was transported in an Israeli military Jeep to his home and then marched with his father, cuffed and blindfolded, through streets of Hebron that are normally off-limits to Palestinians due to the presence of Israeli settlers. Following the detention, the child was transferred to the Palestinian police. While this incident is the first of its kind, other incidents were documented in 2013, including 27 school children arrested in Hebron city centre in March.
The third quarter saw a significant decrease in the number of children injured compared to the second quarter (512 children) but an increase in terms of number of children killed with one Palestinian refugee boy killed in the northern West Bank.
The third quarter of 2013 also saw the displacement of three Palestinian communities almost in their entirety in East Jerusalem and in the northern Jordan Valley. This is an emerging new trend, which the humanitarian sector is following with concern. In addition, a high rise in demolitions in East Jerusalem was reported, confirming the increasing trend of displacement of Palestinians from East Jerusalem in 2013. The total number of incidents documented in the reporting period is 251, affecting 8,227 children.
KILLINGS AND INJURIES
During the third quarter of 2013, one Palestinian boy was killed and 182 Palestinian children were injured (174 boys and eight girls). No Israeli children were killed or injured. This marks a significant decrease in the number of children injured compared to the second quarter of 2013 (512 children).
Nevertheless, the average number of children injured has tripled over the past two years. The monthly average of children injured so far in 2013 is 118, more than double the monthly average of 2012 (56 children injured) and three times the monthly average of 2011 (37 children injured).
On 31 August 2013, a 17-year old Palestinian boy died of wounds that he sustained on 20 August 2013, when Israeli Security Forces (ISF) moved into Jenin refugee camp and clashes erupted between them and Palestinians, including children.
180 Palestinian children were injured in the West Bank.
Eighty children (79 boys and one girl) were injured by ISF during demonstrations, including demonstrations to commemorate the anniversary of Ariel Sharon's visit to the I-Ir-qm al-Sharif/ Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on 28 September 2000, igniting the cycle of violence known as the Second Intifada.
Children between six and 17 years old were also injured during weekly demonstrations against the Barrier or Israeli settlements, and in refugee camps (Al Jalazun, Aida and Arrub). The children were injured with live ammunition (three boys), with rubber-coated metal bullets (48 boys and one girl, including a six-year-old refugee boy who lost his right eye when the rubber-coated metal bullet entered his eye socket). Others were injured after being hit by tear gas canisters (two boys), suffering severe tear gas inhalation (23 boys), or being physically assaulted (three boys).
Another 83 children (81 boys and two girls) were injured by ISF during military operations such as search and arrest operations, including in refugee camps (Qalandia and Jenin), or during clashes between soldiers and Palestinians. These children, aged between one and 17 years, were injured with live ammunition (seven boys), shrapnel of expanding bullets' (five boys) or rubber-coated metal bullets (45 boys). Others were injured after suffering severe tear gas inhalation (17 boys and two girls, including five children aged 1 to 6 years) or being physically assaulted (seven boys).
In addition, 17 children were injured in the context of settler-related violence. Eight children (five boys and three girls, as young as six) were injured directly by Israeli settlers as a result of physical assault (in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Old City of Hebron and in Qawawis - south Hebron). ISF interventions during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers in Nablus and Jerusalem led to the injury of nine children, including by severe tear gas inhalation (three boys and two girls), injury with rubber-coated metal bullet (two boys), shrapnel (one boy), and the noise of an exploding grenade (one boy).
In Gaza, boys aged 14 and 16 were injured in thie Access Restricted Area2 by IDF soldier stationed on the Israeli side of the fence3. In this instance, IDF soldiers fired shots towards a group of Palestinian civilians who were walking approximately 100 metres towards the Barrier that runs between Gaza and Israel, on 20 August. The two boys were injured by live ammunition in their legs and head.
RECRUITMENT AND USE OF CHILDREN BY ARMED FORCES AND GROUPS
No cases were reported in the third quarter of 2013.
ARREST AND DETENTION
At the end of September 2013, 179 boys aged 14 to 17 years were in Israeli military detention for alleged security violations, including 27 between the ages of 14 and 15 years. This marks a 0.5 per cent decrease compared to the previous month.
The number of Palestinian children detained by Israeli Security Forces has been fluctuating at around 200 per month over the past two and a half years. The monthly average for 2013 shows that 211 children per month were in Israeli military custody, compared to 196 per month in 2012; this marks a 7.7 per cent increase. Out of the 179 children, 113 were in pre-trial detention and 66 were serving a sentence.
In relation to these cases, a sample of children arrested, comprised of 23 boys aged 15 to 17, provided sworn affidavits in which they described being subjected to ill-treatment and/or acts that could be tantamount to torture by the Israeli army and police. Out of the 23 sample cases, 20 boys suffered at least ten different types of ill-treatment, including but not limited to, being painfully hand-tied, blindfolded, strip searched, leg-tied, verbally abused, subjected to physical violence (beating and kicking, which in some instances resulted in a knee injury and a broken nose), not informed of their rights, and not allowed the presence of a parent or lawyer during interrogation.
One boy, aged 16 years, was threatened with sexual violence. Two boys, a 16 and a 17 year old, were held in solitary confinement, for five and 25 days respectively, during the interrogation process.
All the 23 boys were transferred to prisons inside Israel during the reporting period, in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
On 11 July 2013, a five-year-old boy was arrested in Hebron and accused of throwing a stone (See photos on Page 1). The young boy, who is below the age of criminal responsibility, was transported in a military Jeep to his home and then marched with his father, cuffed and blindfolded, through streets of Hebron that are normally off-limits to Palestinians due to the presence of Israeli settlers. Following the detention, the child was transferred to the Palestinian police. While this incident is the first of its kind, other incidents were documented in 2013, including 27 school children arrested in March in Hebron city centre, in the same spot or a short walk away from the site where the five-year-old and his father were detained.
Attacks on schools4
In the West Bank, the 18 incidents included nine instances of military activities, six instances of military use of school premises and three settler-related incidents. These incidents were reported in the governorates of Jerusalem, Jenin, Tulkarem, Ramallah, and the Old City of Hebron. The nine incidents resulting from military activities involved clashes between Palestinians and ISF that resulted in children arrested for stone throwing, children suffering from tear gas inhalation and disruption of schools' daily routines.
The six instances of military use of school involved the ISF using a school to secure an area (Nablus, 21 August and 19 September), and IDF soldiers occupying classes and the school yard of four schools: 'Huwwara Secondary School for Boys' (Nablus, 30 July), 'Al-Khadr Secondary School for Boys' (Bethlehem 1-3 September), `Tareq Bin Zyad School for Boys' and 'Osama Bin Muncieth School for Boys' (Hebron 22 and 23 September).
The three settler-related incidents included Israeli settlers breaking into the Qurdoba Basic Mixed School in the Old City of Hebron on 22 September; an armed settler trespassing on school grounds during school hours on 29 September in East Jerusalem's Dar Al Aytam Basic school for boys in the Abu Tor neighborhood; and the physical assault of a 13-year-old girl by a settler on 28 September in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Denial or access to education
Thirty nine 1391 incidents of denial of access to education were documented. Thirty-eight (38) incidents were reported in the West Bank and one in Gaza. No incidents were reported in Israel.
This marks a sharp increase compared to the 27 incidents documented in the second quarter of 2013. This increase is probably partly due to the six workshops carried out in August and September in the West Bank to strengthen the documentation of education-related violations.
In the West Bank, the 38 incidents included the detention of teachers and children while on their way to and from school (in Hebron, East Jerusalem and Nablus); school time lost as a result of delays caused by ISF including at check-points (in Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Jerusalem and Nablus, Qalqiliya and Ramallah); or school time lost as a result of the closing of areas near schools for military exercises or military operations (in Hebron, Jenin and Tubas).
In September, in Gaza, the construction of 13 governmental schools was halted as a result of the lack of construction material due to the Gaza closure imposed by Israeli authorities, compounded by the closure of smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border by Egyptian authorities.
DENIAL OF HUMANITARIAN ACCESS FOR CHILDREN
Since the Israeli-imposed closure of Gaza in 2007, some children in need of specialized medical care outside of Gaza have continued to face delays when accessing health services. In the third quarter of 2013, the Israeli District Liaison Office approved without delay 1,029 out of 1,190 applications for children to cross Erez for medical treatment outside of Gaza. Ninety-seven (97) applications were delayed and one was denied. This is usually due to the denial or delay of a permit for the child's parent, which delays the child's medical treatment while a permit application for a substitute is processed (all children aged 17 or below must be accompanied by a first-degree relative). This marks a six per cent decrease in number of applications approved on average in 2013 as compared to the average rate of approvals for 2012 (89 per cent approved in 2013 compared to 95 per cent approved in 2012).
On 20 September, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator expressed concern at the obstruction of delivery of humanitarian assistance5 after Israeli Security Forces seized a vehicle carrying tents in presence of members of the humanitarian and diplomatic communities, and of foreign media. This humanitarian aid was destined for the community of Makhul, where 48 Palestinians, including 16 children, are in urgent need of emergency shelter following the demolition of their homes by ISF.
Another 178 people, including 97 children, were affected by the demolitions, due to diminished access to services and threats to livelihood. This marks a two per cent decrease in demolitions of Palestinian structures compared to the second quarter of 2013.
In the third quarter of 2013, three Palestinian communities were displaced almost in their entirety. This appears to constitute a new trend, closely monitored by the humanitarian community.
In August, all members of the Bedouin community of Bir Nabala/Tel al Adassa, in the area between Ramallah and Jerusalem, were displaced following the demolition of 21 remaining structures, including six residential structures, by Israeli Security Forces on the grounds that they lacked Israeli-issued building permits.
In September, Israeli authorities demolished almost all the existing structures in Makhul, a small herding community located in Area C in the northern Jordan Valley, on the ground that they lacked Israeli-issued building permits. In total, 57 structures were destroyed, including ten residential structures, 28 animal shelters, nine kitchens and nine latrines. The community's kindergarten was partially demolished. At least 17 of the targeted structures were funded by international donors.
Also in September, the Israeli Civil Administration and Border Police demolished 18 structures, including eight residential structures, in the Az Zayyem refugee community, located in the El area of the Jerusalem periphery.
In 2013, there has also been a significant rise in demolitions and displacement in East Jerusalem.
The number of people displaced this year in East Jerusalem is now over 250, by far the highest number since 2009 and more than the combined total of persons displaced in East Jerusalem in all of 2011 and 2012.
1 An expanding bullet is a bullet designed to expand on impact, increasing in diameter to limit penetration and/or produce a larger diameter wound.
2 When first created in 1995 as part of the Palestinian-Israeli Interim Agreement, the area of restricted access (an area of land on the Gaza side of the 1948 Green line) was 50 metres wide. Since that time, the Government of Israel has gradually and unilaterally expanded the restricted land area. At current, Palestinians in Gaza are either totally or partially prohibited to enter the area 1000-1500 meters from the Green line.
3This is the fence that delimits Gaza from Israel, which is constituted in part by a wall and in other parts by an electric metallic fence.
4"Attacks on schools" include the targeting of schools (or medical facilities) that cause the total or partial destruction of such facilities. Other interferences to the normal operation of the facility may also be reported, such as the occupation, shelling, targeting for propaganda of, or otherwise causing harm to schools or medical facilities or its personnel.