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Children and armed conflict
Report of the Secretary-General
1. The present report, which covers the period from January to December 2011, is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 1998 (2011), by which the Council requested me to submit a report on the implementation of its resolutions 1261 (1999), 1314 (2000), 1379 (2001), 1460 (2003), 1539 (2004), 1612 (2005), 1882 (2009) and 1998 (2011), as well as its presidential statements on children and armed conflict.
2. The present report provides information on grave violations committed against children, in particular the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence against children, the killing and maiming of children, the abduction of children, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access to children by parties to conflict in contravention of applicable international law (see sect. II). The report also describes progress made by parties to conflict on dialogue and action plans to halt the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence against children and the killing and maiming of children, as well as on the release of children associated with armed forces and armed groups (see sect. III). ...
6. Pursuant to Security Council resolution 1612 (2005), in identifying the situations that fall within the scope of her mandate, my Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict is guided by the criteria for determining the existence of an armed conflict found in international humanitarian law and international jurisprudence. In the performance of her mandate, my Special Representative has adopted a pragmatic and cooperative approach to this issue, with a humanitarian emphasis, aimed at ensuring broad and effective protection for children exposed to and affected by conflict in situations of concern. Reference to a situation is not a legal determination, and reference to a non-State party does not affect its legal status. 1
II. Information on grave violations committed against children in armed conflict and response
A. Information on grave violations committed against children in situations on the agenda of the Security Council
Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel
82. In 2011, Palestinian and Israeli children continued to suffer from the prevailing situation of conflict. Twenty Palestinian children (19 boys and one girl) were killed and 448 (393 boys and 55 girls) were injured in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and five Israeli children (four boys and one girl) were killed and two boys were injured in Israel in incidents related to the conflict, marking a significant increase compared with the previous year.
83. Among the 20 Palestinian children killed, 13 boys were killed by Israeli security forces, two boys and one girl by Palestinian armed groups, including the Izz al-Din Al Qassam Brigade and the Popular Resistance Committee in Gaza, two boys by explosive remnants of war and two boys by Israeli settlers. Out of the 448 Palestinian children who were injured, 89 were under the age of 12 years. A total of 384 children were injured by the Israeli security forces, 41 by Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, 15 by unknown perpetrators owing to the detonation of improvised explosive devices and 8 by unidentified Palestinian armed groups. Sixty-nine per cent of the injuries occurred in the West Bank (including 20 per cent in East Jerusalem), and 31 per cent occurred in Gaza (including 15 per cent in the so-called buffer zone).
84. In the West Bank, there were serious concerns regarding incidents in which Palestinian children were killed or injured by Israeli settlers. In 2011, two boys were killed as a result of shooting attacks perpetrated by settlers, and another 35 boys and 6 girls were injured in incidents involving Israeli settlers, such as throwing stones at vehicles and attacks against Palestinian houses or farm land.
85. In 2011, 8 Palestinian children were shot and killed and 65 boys and 2 girls were injured by the Israeli security forces in the so-called buffer zone in Gaza that was established for security concerns. Thirty-four children were injured while collecting gravel and scrap metal, fishing, at home or playing in the so-called buffer zone. Thirty-four boys were also injured on 15 May 2011 during a demonstration at Erez crossing by live ammunition and tear gas fired by the Israeli security forces to dispel demonstrators near the border fence. All subsequent claims of excessive use of force during this incident are being investigated by the Israeli security forces.
86. Eight Palestinian children were injured as a result of rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups from Gaza that fell short and landed inside Gaza, or by explosives that detonated while preparing for an attack or being stored in populated areas.
87. In 2011, five Israeli children, four boys and one girl, were killed and two boys were injured in conflict-related incidents. A 1-year-old boy was killed in a car accident near Hebron caused by Palestinian stone-throwing. On 11 March, two boys and a three-month-old girl were killed in an attack on an Israeli family living in the Itamar settlement near Nablus, perpetrated by two Palestinian young people. In southern Israel near the border with Gaza, a 16-year-old boy was killed when a rocket fired by a Palestinian armed group hit a school bus on 17 April. Another two Israeli boys, aged 1 and 9 years, were injured when a rocket fired by a Palestinian armed group from the Gaza Strip hit the town of Ashkelon on 20 August.
88. One case of child recruitment by Izz al-Din Al Qassam Brigade was reported, when a 17-year-old Palestinian boy was killed on 11 August by the detonation of the explosives he was carrying while performing surveillance tasks in Rafah, southern Gaza.
89. Five separate cases of use of children by the Israeli security forces for military intelligence purposes were reported in 2011 in Meggido prison and Salem and Mescobiyya interrogation centres. These cases involved Palestinian boys aged 15 to 17 years who were arrested and offered money, entry to Israel and a car or a mobile telephone in exchange for intelligence on activities in their villages.
90. At the end of December 2011, 135 Palestinian children, 134 boys and 1 girl, aged 12 to 17 years, were detained in Israeli prisons for alleged security violations. This represents a steady decrease compared with 2010. It should be noted that on 18 December 2011, 55 children were released as part of the second stage of the prisoner swap for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. In 2011, two cases of administrative detention were reported. In the first case, the boy was released in February 2011, after 11 months in administrative detention. Another child was arrested and placed in administrative detention in December 2011. In 2011, 59 children from the West Bank were reportedly transferred to prisons inside Israel in contravention of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
91. In relation to the 135 cases of detention mentioned above, 116 cases were documented through affidavits. Sixty-two children were below the age of 16, including two 10 years of age and one 9 years of age. All of the 116 boys reported being subjected to cruel and degrading treatment by the Israeli security forces and Israeli police while in detention. Ninety-two per cent of the children interviewed reported the use of hand-ties in violation of Israeli security forces orders, 70 per cent reported having been blindfolded, 61 per cent reported having been beaten, 7 per cent reported solitary confinement, 21 per cent reported denial of access to toilets and 18 per cent reported denial of access to food and water.
92. In a positive development, on 27 September 2011, the Israeli Military Commander in the West Bank issued Order 1676 which raised the age of majority in the West Bank from 16 to 18 years. This amendment increases the level of protection given to children in the context of juvenile military courts in the West Bank by introducing new provisions that relate to the adequate and professional care of child detainees, the separation of child detainees from adults, notification of parents, access of parents to trials, appointment of a lawyer and so forth.
93. A significant number of attacks on schools and education facilities continued to be reported both in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in 2011. These attacks resulted in damage to schools or interruption of education, and in some cases, in direct injury of children. Thirty-six cases were reported in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, compared with 20 cases reported in 2010. Four attacks were reported against Israeli schools, compared with one case in 2010.
94. Twenty-three cases of attacks on schools or military use of schools were reported in the West Bank, including 15 by the Israeli security forces and 8 by Israeli settlers. In five instances related to search operations in villages or to demonstrations, the Israeli security forces fired tear gas at Palestinian schools, resulting in students suffering from tear-gas inhalation. In several instances, direct attacks on schools or military use of schools were reported. In seven cases, Israeli soldiers entered school premises. In April 2011, the Israeli security forces converted a school into a military outpost for a few hours in Nablus. In another incident, the killing of five members of an Israeli family in a settlement near Nablus led to a curfew imposed by the Israeli security forces on the adjacent village of Awarta. During a period of five days, the military conducted search operations and used one school as a detention and interrogation centre. In addition, eight attacks were perpetrated by Israeli settlers, including by physically assaulting Palestinian children on their way to school, attacking schools by throwing rocks and empty bottles, or vandalizing schools. One incident involved Israeli settlers setting fire to a school prayer room in Huwwara (Nablus). In addition to these attacks, 10 schools located in Area C of the West Bank received demolition or stop-work orders issued by the Israeli authorities.
95. Fourteen incidents of attacks on schools were reported in Gaza. Eleven schools were damaged as a result of shooting or heavy firing near the schools, or by Israeli air strikes targeting Palestinian armed groups or suspected weapons and ammunition storage located in the vicinity of schools. Palestinian armed groups were responsible for damage caused to two schools in Gaza, when rockets allegedly fired at southern Israel fell short. In addition, an unidentified Palestinian armed group attacked a United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East summer games facility in Beit Lahiya.
96. Missiles or rockets fired from Gaza damaged four school facilities in Israel, including a day-care centre in the area of Eshkol in March 2011, a day-care centre and a high school in Beer Sheba in August 2011 and a school in Ashdod in October 2011.