Follow UNISPAL Twitter RSS
1. The present report, which covers the period from January to December 2012, is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2068 (2012), by which the Council requested me to continue to submit annual reports on the implementation of its resolutions and presidential statements on children and armed conflict.
2. The preparation of the report involved broad consultations within the United Nations, in particular with the Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict, the country task forces on monitoring and reporting, peacekeeping and special political missions, United Nations country teams and non-governmental organizations. It also involved extensive consultations with relevant Member States and regional organizations.
3. In September 2012, Leila Zerrougui took office as my Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. Building on the work of her predecessors, she will focus on furthering the implementation of the international legal framework and mechanisms in place for the protection of children affected by armed conflict, in particular by strengthening monitoring and reporting on all grave violations against children, increasing support for the implementation of action plans, enhancing cooperation with Member States and regional organizations to strengthen ownership of the agenda, ensuring rapid response in emerging situations to halt and prevent violations against children and developing strategies to put increased pressure on persistent perpetrators.
4. The present report begins by describing a number of emerging challenges regarding the impact of the evolving nature of armed conflict. It also explores some additional tools to enforce compliance by armed forces and armed groups with child rights obligations and provides an update on cooperation with regional organizations. The report then continues by providing information on grave violations committed against children and progress made by parties on dialogue, action plans and other measures to halt and prevent such grave violations.1
V. Information on grave violations committed against children during armed conflict and progress made by parties on dialogue, action plans and other measures to halt and prevent violations against children
A. Situations on the agenda of the Security Council
76. The United Nations reported incidents of grave violations against children resulting from clashes between armed groups in Lebanon and hostilities along its borders. During the reporting period, the level and scale of armed violence affecting children increased, in particular as a result of the impact of the Syrian conflict on Lebanon. The United Nations documented 24 violations against children, most of which involved killing and maiming, compared with 11 in 2011. Most affected were the border areas between Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic in the north and the Bekaa valley, in addition to the area in and around Tripoli.
77. The United Nations received reports on the participation of children in armed clashes between opposing political groups in Lebanon. In June 2012, for example, four boys between 15 and 17 years of age were arrested for their involvement in a protest against the national armed forces, following the harassment of a resident of the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian camp in Tripoli. The United Nations also received allegations of Syrian refugee children in border areas of Lebanon being pressured into joining armed groups in the Syrian Arab Republic. Anecdotal information regarding possible association of children with armed militias, in particular in and around Tripoli, was also prevalent.
78. The increasing number of Syrian refugees crossing into Lebanon created growing threats of exposure of children to landmines and unexploded ordnance. Cross-border shelling and armed clashes inside Lebanon posed new risks to children. Such incidents resulted in the killing of five boys and a girl between 8 months and 15 years of age and the maiming of two girls and three boys between 11 and 15 years of age, mostly in Tripoli and Wadi Khalid, northern Lebanon.
79. In March 2012, armed clashes between rival Palestinian factions in front of a school in the Ein el-Hillweh Palestinian camp, Sidon district, during school hours led to the disruption of schooling. During the incident, children between 6 and 10 years of age were evacuated from the school. On various occasions in July, August, November and December 2012, schooling was further disrupted in Beddawi Palestinian camp owing to armed clashes in the areas of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen in Tripoli.
Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel
108. In 2012, Palestinian and Israeli children continued to be affected by the prevailing situation of conflict. In the West Bank, the number of Palestinian children killed and injured during demonstrations and violence by Israeli settlers remained a serious concern. Throughout the reporting period, there were several escalations of violence between armed groups in Gaza and Israeli forces that resulted in the killing and injuring of Palestinian children and the injuring of Israeli children. During the reporting period, 50 Palestinian children (40 boys and 10 girls) were killed and 665 (640 boys and 25 girls) injured in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and 17 Israeli children were injured in Israel, marking a significant increase compared with 2011.
109. In the West Bank, four Palestinian boys were killed and 552 Palestinian children, including 16 girls, injured during the reporting period. Of the children killed, two were victims of unexploded ordnance and two were shot by Israeli forces during demonstrations. On 12 December 2012, a 17-year-old boy was shot and killed at a checkpoint at the entrance to Al-Masharqa neighbourhood in the old city of Hebron. Since mid-November 2012, an increase in the use of lethal force by Israeli forces has been observed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, also affecting children. A total of 436 Palestinian children were injured during demonstrations in clashes with the Israeli forces: 69 during military operations involving live ammunition, physical assault, gas canisters, rubber-coated metal bullets or tear gas inhalation; 39 as a result of settler violence; and 8 as a result of unexploded ordnance. Although no children were killed by Israeli settlers in 2012, 18 were injured as a result of physical assault, stone throwing or the use of Molotov cocktails or live ammunition. A total of 21 children were injured as a result of intervention by Israeli forces following clashes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers.
110. In Gaza, 46 Palestinian children were killed during the reporting period, the vast majority in November 2012 during an operation in Gaza codenamed “Pillar of Defence”. During the first two weeks of November, armed violence escalated intermittently as the Israeli forces attacked various targets inside Gaza and Palestinian armed groups fired rockets into southern Israel. Between 14 and 21 November 2012, 32 Palestinian children were killed by Israeli air strikes. In three other incidents, Palestinian children were allegedly killed by Palestinian rockets aimed at Israel that fell short and landed in Gaza. Outside the November escalation, another 11 children were killed in Gaza: 3 as a result of Israeli air strikes; 3 by Israeli tank shells; 1 boy during an incursion into Gaza by Israeli forces; 1 boy as a result of mishandling a weapon found at home; 1 boy while mishandling unexploded ordnance; and 2 other children as a result of Palestinian rockets aimed at Israel that fell short and landed in Gaza.
111. A further 113 children were injured in Gaza as a result of Israeli military operations, during demonstrations or as a result of unexploded ordnance. In one particular incident, on 30 March 2012, 23 boys were injured during demonstrations, 21 as a result of the use of live ammunition by Israeli forces and 2 owing to severe tear gas inhalation.
112. During the reporting period, 17 Israeli children were injured. In November 2012, during the escalation of violence in Gaza, Palestinian armed groups launched rockets at southern Israel. On 15 November 2012, 14 Israeli children, including an 8-month-old baby, were injured. Three other Israeli children were injured inside the West Bank. On 10 July 2012, two settler children were injured during clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians in Al-Khalil neighbourhood of the old city of Hebron. On 8 April 2012, a girl was injured when the vehicle in which she was travelling was hit by an object thrown by an unidentified person on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
113. On 3 June 2012, a 17-year-old Palestinian boy was reportedly killed by an Israeli air strike on a motorcycle on which members of the Abdul Qader Al-Husseini armed group were travelling in Abasan, southern Gaza. On 21 February 2012, Israeli forces reportedly used a Palestinian boy as a human shield. The 15-year-old boy from Beit Ummar was taken from his home by Israeli forces and forced to walk in front of a military jeep at which villagers were throwing stones, in violation of an Israeli Supreme Court order forbidding the use of human shields. During the reporting period, four other cases of attempted use of children by Israeli forces for military intelligence purposes were reported in the Megiddo and Al-Jalame interrogation sites. These cases involved Palestinian boys between 15 and 17 years of age who were arrested and offered money, entry to Israel and a car or mobile telephone in exchange for intelligence on activities in their villages.
114. In 2012, Palestinian children continued to be arrested and detained by Israeli forces for alleged security offences and prosecuted in juvenile military courts. At the end of December 2012, 194 boys and 1 girl, of between 12 and 17 years of age, were in Israeli military detention for alleged security infractions. Of those children, 119 were being held in pretrial detention and 76 had been convicted and were serving a sentence. According to the Israeli Prison Service, 73 child detainees were transferred to prisons inside Israel during the reporting period. Such transfers contravene article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
115. In 2012, in relation to those cases of military detention, 115 cases of ill-treatment were documented through affidavits taken by lawyers. All 115 Palestinian boys reported being subjected to cruel and degrading ill-treatment by the Israeli forces and the Israeli police, including but not limited to the practice of blindfolding and painful restraint during arrest, transfer and interrogation; strip-searching; verbal abuse; physical violence, including beating and kicking; and threats of violence. A total of 21 boys were also held in solitary confinement for a period ranging from 1 to 20 days at Al-Jalame, Hasharon and Petah Tikva interrogation sites, in addition to the Megiddo prison inside Israel.
116. On 1 August 2012, Israeli Military Order No. 1685 established that children arrested and detained by the Israeli forces must be brought before a judge within four days of arrest, instead of the previously allowed eight days. Another military order, issued on 28 November 2012, which will enter into force in April 2013, will further halve the length of pretrial detention, stipulating that children under 14 years of age should be brought before a judge within 24 hours of arrest and children between 14 and 18 years of age within 48 hours. Although this represents progress, the duration remains double the maximum pretrial detention period for Israeli children under Israeli juvenile law.
117. In 2012, a significant number of attacks on schools and education facilities continued to be reported in both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. A total of 321 cases were reported in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in 2012, compared with 46 in 2011. Seven attacks against Israeli schools were reported.
118. A total of 25 incidents of attacks on schools were reported in the West Bank in 2012. In 11 instances, the Israeli forces entered or attempted to enter school premises during search operations, to remove Palestinian flags from the rooftops of schools or for other unknown reasons, causing disruption to classes and sometimes damage to schools. In another four instances, the Israeli forces fired live ammunition or tear gas at schools. In a worrisome spike in incidents, on four separate occasions, Israeli settlers from Yitzhar settlement threw stones at the school in Urif (Nablus). In one particular instance, on 23 April 2012, the stone-throwing by settlers triggered clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces and settlers from the Yitzhar settlement, after which tear gas was fired at the Palestinians, injuring eight children. In addition, on six occasions, Israeli forces also entered the Haj Ma’zoz Al Masri Secondary School for Girls in Nablus to secure the area for Israeli settlers during night-time religious events.
119. The vast majority of the incidents affecting schools in Gaza occurred between 14 and 21 November 2012, during the Israeli military operation. A total of 285 school buildings suffered damage as a result of Israeli air strikes on nearby locations, including 60 United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) school buildings. Six UNRWA health centres also suffered damage during the escalation in November.
120. In southern Israel, six school buildings were damaged by rockets launched by Palestinian armed groups during the hostilities in November 2012. One additional Israeli school in Beersheba was damaged on 11 March 2012 by rocket fire from Gaza. No injuries to children were reported as a result of the incident, given that the school had been closed that day as a precautionary measure.
Syrian Arab Republic
150. The Syrian conflict has entered its third year. The situation for children has deteriorated in all areas of concern. Among the well in excess of 70,000 people estimated to have been killed to date, many thousands are children. Sizeable numbers of children have been killed and gravely injured in shelling and fighting, while thousands more have seen family members killed or injured or have lived through shelling, missile firing and heavy aerial and artillery bombardment of their homes, schools and hospitals by the government forces, resulting in severe psychological distress. The use of terror tactics by armed opposition groups, such as car and other bombs, in civilian areas, including near schools, and the association of children with such armed groups rose sharply over the reporting period.
151. Children in the Syrian Arab Republic continued to be killed, injured and maimed by heavy artillery, air strikes, crossfire and explosive remnants of war as a direct result of the conflict in incidents that occurred in Damascus, Homs, Dera’a and Aleppo, among others. Refugee children inside the Syrian Arab Republic have also been directly affected. Palestinian and other refugee children have been killed, injured, forced to flee their homes and live in need in shelters for internally displaced persons. Government air strikes and bombardment predominated in areas controlled by the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups. Government forces and allied shabbiha militia continued incursions in areas of contested control. On 25 May 2012, government soldiers and shabbiha members reportedly entered El Houleh village, Homs governorate, and killed 100 civilians, including at least 41 children. The local school, where people had sought refuge, was reportedly bombed by government forces in July 2012, resulting in the death of two children.
1The six grave violations are killing or maiming of children, recruitment or use of children as soldiers, sexual violence against children, attacks against schools and hospitals, denial of humanitarian access for children and abduction of children.