Members of the working group include: DCI-Palestine, B'Tselem, Medecins du Monde — Suisse, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Save the Children, War Child Holland, World Vision, OCHA, OHCHR, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNRWA, UNMAS and WHO.
This annual edition covers 2013.
• In 2013, Palestinian and Israeli children continued to be affected by the prevailing situation of military occupation, armed conflict, settlements and access restrictions.
• In the West Bank, an upsurge was observed in the number of Palestinian children killed and injured by the Israeli Security Forces (ISF) during clashes and as a result of violence by Israeli settlers.
• In the West Bank, 1,235 Palestinian children were injured in 2013, more than double the 551 children injured in 2012.
• Four Palestinian communities were displaced almost in their entirety in East Jerusalem and in the northern Jordan Valley. In addition, a steep rise in demolitions in East Jerusalem was reported, confirming the increasing trend of displacement of Palestinians from East Jerusalem during 2013.
• In a positive trend, as a result of the November 2012 ceasefire understanding between Israel and Palestinian de-facto authorities in Gaza, the number of children killed and injured in Gaza and southern Israel significantly decreased compared to 2012.
KILLINGS AND INJURIES
The number of children killed decreased compared to 2012, largely owing to the November 2012 ceasefire understanding between Israel and Palestinian de-facto authorities in Gaza. However the number of children injured in 2013 is almost double the children injured in 2012 (666), due to a high increase in the number of clashes, demonstrations and settler-related violence in the West Bank.
In 2013, eight Israeli children were injured in the West Bank in incidents related to the presence of Israeli settlements inside the West Bank, marking an increase compared to 2012 (three). No Israeli children were reported injured in southern Israel, a significant decrease compared to 2012 (17), also owing to the holding of the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza.
1- Palestinian children
In the West Bank, four boys aged between 15 and 17 years, all registered Palestinian refugees, were killed in 2013 as a result of the ongoing conflict and military occupation. This is the same number of children who died in 2012. However, in 2013, all four killings resulted from the use of live ammunition during clashes, while in 2012 two boys were killed during military operations and two as a result of the detonation of unexploded ordnance. Three incidents took place in refugee camps (Al Jalazun, Jenin and Ayda refugee camps) and one incident in Budrus village, in an area located next to the Barrier built by Israel partly inside the West Bank.
As an example of the incidents reported in refugee camps, on 7 December, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy was shot in the back and killed by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) near Al Jalazun Refugee Camp, next to the Israeli settlement of Beit El, allegedly while throwing stones at the soldiers. This shooting followed a spike of injuries to Palestinians from live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets by ISF during clashes at or near the refugee camp. Investigations were opened for all cases except the incident which occurred on 31 August in the Jenin refugee camp, for which no investigation has been opened to date.
In the West Bank, 1,235 Palestinian children were injured in 2013, more than double the 551 children injured in 2012. This steep increase in the number of Palestinian children injured can be attributed to the high number of clashes, including as a result of demonstrations and an increase of settler attacks, all leading to clashes with the ISF. Out of the 1,235 children injured, 961 children were injured during clashes, 183 during military operations, 86 as a result of settler violence, and four as a result of unexploded ordnance detonation. One hundred and fifty five (155) of the 1,235 children were under the age of 12 years.
Children injured during clashes
2013 witnessed an increase in the number of Palestinian children being injured, mainly owing to clashes (often in the context of protests or demonstrations), during which 961 children were injured in the West Bank. Clashes erupted in refugee camps such as Al Jalazun, Ayda, Al Arroub, Al Fawwar, Shu'fat and Qalandia, (which are the refugee camps with the highest number of confrontations), as well as in locations where Palestinians and ISF come into contact and friction, including as a result of ISF presence in front of schools at opening and closing hours. A high number of demonstrations were held in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike and to protest against the death of a prisoner while in detention. Demonstrations were also held to protest against the presence of the West Bank Barrier; the expansion of Israeli settlements; the entrance of Israeli citizens into the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount compound; incidents of killing of Palestinians; as well as to commemorate the anniversary of the death of President Arafat and the anniversary of 'Al Nakba', which marks the day of the creation of the state of Israel, when the majority of the Palestinian population became refugees. During these clashes, children were injured by rubber-coated bullets (490), tear gas inhalation (396), physical assault (13), live ammunition (39), direct impact of tear gas canisters (19), shrapnel (2), stones thrown by protestors (1), and being hit by a military jeep (1).
Children injured in the course of military operations
Out of the total 1,235 children injured, 183 were injured in the context of military activities, which include raids and search and arrest operations in villages or refugee camps. During these military operations, children were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets (88), tear gas inhalation (49), physical assault (24), live ammunition (10), direct impact of tear gas canisters or sound grenades (6), and shrapnel (6).
Children injured as a result of settler attacks
Settler-related violence significantly increased in 2013, resulting in the injury of 86 Palestinian children. Forty-nine (49) children, 40 boys and nine girls, were injured directly by Israeli settlers. They include: 25 children, 20 boys and five girls, injured as a result of physical assault; 18 children, 14 boys and four girls, as a result of stones or glass bottles thrown against Palestinian houses or cars; five boys affected by severe smoke inhalation as a result of the fire that Israeli settlers set to their house; and one boy injured with live ammunition.
The remaining 37 children were injured as a result of ISF intervention in the context of other settler-related incidents, including Israeli settlers attacking Palestinian villages and refugee camps by firing live ammunition or throwing stones; Israeli settlers entering Palestinian land, the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount compound, religious Jewish locations, and during clashes ensuing thereafter. In the course of these incidents, Palestinian children were injured as a result of severe tear gas inhalation (16 children, 14 boys and two girls), rubber-coated metal bullets or shrapnel of bullets (12 boys), physical assault (six boys), and direct impact of tear gas canisters or sound grenades (three boys). Children were mostly affected in the Governorate of Nablus (35) with settlers from Bracha, Eli, and Yizhar settlements entering and clashing with residents in the villages of Asira al Qibliya, Burin, Iraq Burin and Qusra; the Governorate of Hebron (22), including the Old City of Hebron; and East Jerusalem (14). These locations were also affected by Israeli settler attacks in 2012 and 2011.
Children injured due to unexploded ordnance
Four Palestinian boys were injured as a result of mishandling unexploded ordnance. Incidents were reported in Hebron, Jericho and Ramallah.
2 - Israeli children
In 2013, no Israeli children were killed in Israel, marking a stable trend compared to 2012 when also no Israeli children were killed.
Eight Israeli children (five boys and three girls) were injured in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in Jerusalem, marking an increase compared to 2012, when three Israeli children were injured in the West Bank. Five boys and one girl were injured as a result of stones thrown by Palestinians at vehicles travelling near the Ariel settlement (Governorate of Salfit), the Teqoa settlement (Governorate of Bethlehem), and the Har Homa settlement (in East Jerusalem). One girl was injured as a result of a stone-throwing incident in the Old City of Jerusalem, and another girl was injured as a result of live ammunition shot by Palestinians towards the Psagot settlement located next to Ramallah.
In Gaza, four Palestinian children were killed (two boys and two girls). Two boys died as a result of tampering with unexploded ordnance. These incidents took place in early 2013 in Gaza city and Khan Yunis, shortly after the November 2012 Israeli military offensive "Pillar of Defence".
A three-year-old girl was killed on 24 December as a result of shelling by the ISF towards a building northeast Al Maghazi camp and another 17-year-old girl was killed on 30 December while tampering with the rifle of her father, reportedly associated with the Islamic Jihad armed group.
In Gaza, 30 children were injured in 2013. Ten children were injured as a result of military operations in the Access Restricted Areal (A.R.A.) along the Barrier between Gaza and Israel. Of these, nine boys aged between 13 and 17 years were injured by live ammunition (eight) and tear gas canisters (one) fired by the ISF stationed on observation posts on the Barrier to people who were either near the Barrier, approaching the Barrier or throwing rocks to the soldiers. In one specific instance, a 16-year-old boy was injured when two Israeli gunboats opened fire against a Palestinian fishing boat located three nautical miles off the northern Gaza strip. Another two-year-old girl was injured by live ammunition shot by ISF while she was playing in front of her house.
Twenty children (19 boys and one girl) were injured as a result of tampering with unexploded ordnance. Most of the incidents in which children were injured occurred between January and March 2013, after the November 2012 Israeli military offensive "Pillar of Defence".
In 2013, Palestinian children continued to be arrested and detained by the Israeli security forces, and prosecuted in juvenile military courts. According to the data provided by the Israel Prison Service (IPS) (which is a head count of children in IPS detention at the end of each month), in 2013, on average 202 children were held in military detention per month, compared to 196 children in 2012, marking a three per cent increase. At the end of December 2013, 154 boys, aged 14 to 17 years, (including 14 under the age of 16 years) were held in Israeli military detention for alleged security violations, most of them in pre-trial detention (106) and others serving a sentence (48). In 2013, no girls were in military detention.
In addition, according to data provided by the Palestinian District Coordination Office (DCO), in 2013, at least 350 children aged between five and 17-years-old were taken into military custody by the IDF and released within a few hours or a day to their families. Based on preliminary information, it appears that the majority of these children are being taken into custody for engaging in child labour; for being near settlements, check-points or the Barrier; or for being involved in security offenses, including stone-throwing.
ILL-TREATMENT AND TORTURE
In relation to the arrest and detention of Palestinian children by Israeli security forces, the UNICEF-led Working Group on Violations against Children documented, in 2013, 107 cases of ill-treatment through affidavits (sworn testimonies of children) collected in the West Bank, including East-Jerusalem. This sample represents an approximate 16 per cent of the total number of Palestinian children arrested and detained in the West Bank by Israeli security forces and referred to the MAG's Office in 2013. While this sample does not cover all children arrested in the West Bank for alleged security offenses, it gives a sense of the nature and the scope of the reports of ill-treatment.
Of particular note is that eleven (11) boys were under the age of 14, of which five under the age of 12 (the age of criminal responsibility). Nine of these boys were released after arrest and interrogation without charges being pressed. Of the five children under the age of 12, one was interrogated while the others were released to their parents through the Palestinian DCO or left outside the settlement and told to go home.
The data below, based on the 107 affidavits from children, reflect a series of trends regarding ill-treatment of children in 2013. Children reported being subjected to multiple violations throughout the arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention phases.
• Fifty-five children report being arrested at night. The number of night arrests demonstrates a slight decrease from 30 children arrested at night during the first two quarters of 2013 to 25 children arrested at night during the last two quarters of 2013.
• Overall, the practice of blindfolding children decreased with 12 per cent, from 107 children in 2012 to 87 children in 2013. However four out of five children interviewed still report being subjected to blindfolding (81%).
• The total number of children painfully hand-tied in 2013 was 104 (97%), largely remaining at the same level of 2012 (96%). A gradual yet minimal decrease is observed in the reported use of painful hand-ties during the last two quarters of 2013.
• Information on the reported use of physical violence against children continued throughout 2013. However, a significant downward trend can be observed during the second half of 2013, from 55 children abused during the first two quarters to 35 children during the second two quarters.
• The number of children reportedly being verbally abused during arrest or detention remains high compared to previous years (71 children or 66%). In addition, five cases of threats of sexual violence were reported, marking an increase from the two cases reported in 2012.
• A significantly higher percentage of children were detained in prison facilities inside Israel (76%), compared to 63% in 2012. This means that at least 3 out of 4 children are being transferred outside the occupied Palestinian territory in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
On 6 March 2013, UNICEF released a briefing paper titled "Children in Israeli Military Detention —Observations and Recommendations" 2 which outlines practical measures to improve the treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military custody. The paper stated that there appeared to be a pattern of ill-treatment during the arrest, transfer and interrogation of child detainees in the West Bank. UNICEF has since engaged in a dialogue with relevant Israeli authorities, in conjunction with the diplomatic community and international, Israeli and Palestinian civil society organizations with a view to advocating for the translation of the recommendations into concrete actions.
The initiatives undertaken by the Government of Israel during 2013 include the following:
• Military Order 1711 (April 2013) reduces the time a Palestinian child can be detained prior to appearing before a military court judge for the first time
• Military Orders 1726 (October 2013) regulates the duration of remand prior to the indictment and provides, that after an initial period of 15 days a remand can only be extended by the Military Court Judges, and that after a cumulative period of 40 days, the pre-indictment remand may only be extended by the Military Court of Appeals.
• In April 2013, the IDF introduced a form in Hebrew and Arabic, which must be given to the parents of a child who is arrested at home, providing parents with information on the reasons for the arrest and where the child will be taken.
• In May 2013, the IDF Legal Advisor for the West Bank issued a letter to the heads of all Brigades, Divisions, Police and Military Police operating in the West Bank to remind all units of existing standard operating procedures and policies in relation to the arrest of children.
• In February 2014, the IDF Central Command for the West Bank started a pilot test in the West Bank to replace the practice of night arrests of children with a summons procedure.
Most measures introduced by the Israeli authorities relate to the strengthening of military legislation or restatement/clarification of existing operational procedures. Other practical measures, including the pilot test of summonses instead of night arrests are in their initial phase and harbor a strong potential for improved protection for children. Progress, however, has been slow, and the impact on children remains limited.
The data demonstrates a gap between policy and practice, and reports of ill-treatment of children during arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention have not significantly decreased in 2013.
In 2013, a substantial number of education-related incidents were reported in the occupied Palestinian territory, resulting in damage to school facilities, interruption of classes and in some instances injury of children.
In the West Bank, a steep increase was observed in education-related incidents, from 29 cases documented in 2012 to 58 cases in 2013, most likely due to increased monitoring capacity. A total number of 11,935 school children were impacted by these incidents in 2013.
Schools affected by military operations
In 41 instances, children were affected by ISF military operations near or inside schools, involving search operations, response to demonstrations, and forced entry (sometimes for no apparent reason). During these incidents, the ISF fired tear gas canisters and sound bombs into school yards, resulting in children suffering from tear gas inhalation and other injuries. In some cases, school facilities sustained damages leading to the disruption of classes. Twenty-five of these incidents took place in Area A and B of the West Bank, ten in the Old City of Hebron, four in Area C, and one in East Jerusalem. Out of the 41 cases, 15 related to instances where the ISF fired tear gas canisters into UNRWA-run schools.
Use of schools for military purposes
In 12 other cases, the ISF entered and used schools, mainly to provide protection for Israeli settlers as they visited places of religious significance. The Haj Ma'zoz Al Masri School in Nablus was forcibly entered by the ISF on six separate occasions throughout 2013 to ensure the protection of Israeli settlers visiting Joseph's Tomb. Each time, the school sustained minor damage, with the locks and main doors being broken.
Settler attacks on schools
In five other instances in Nablus, Hebron and East Jerusalem, Israeli settlers attacked schools and school children, sometimes protected by the ISF. In one such case on 16 April, a group of settlers shielded by the ISF attacked Urif Secondary School for Boys near Nablus, resulting in clashes and tear gas bombs being thrown inside the classrooms.
Appropriation of school grounds
Lastly, in a separate instance, the ISF, on 16 June, partially raided Azzun Beit Amin school grounds, Qalqiliya governorate, as part of an operation aiming at completing a portion of the West Bank Barrier.
One incident was documented in Gaza in 2013. This represents a significant decrease compared to the 293 cases reported in 2012. In particular, the ceasefire between the Government of Israel and de-facto Hamas authorities in Gaza in November 2012 resulted in a near-to-zero reduction of attacks on schools in Gaza. In the one reported incident in Gaza on 25 December, ISF fired rockets into the Gaza strip, which exploded near Deir Al Balah Vocational School and Abdallah Ben Rawaha Mixed School, damaging the schools' windows.
In Israel, no attacks on schools were recorded for 2013.
In the West Bank, school children continued to face difficulties in accessing schools as a result of delays and closures caused by ISF military operations and of intimidation, threats and violence by Israeli settlers. A significant increase was noted in the number of incidents in 2013 (126), compared to 2012 (49), most likely due to increased monitoring capacity. In total, 21,411 children were affected in 2013.
In 79 instances, school children and teachers were delayed or prevented from going to school due to checkpoints, areas being closed for military operations or exercises, military patrols in front of schools, closures due to nearby clashes, or the occurrence of clashes on the way to school. In 32 other cases, both teachers and school children were arrested inside the school, at checkpoints or on their way to school. A further 15 incidents were related to settler violence in the areas of Nablus, Qalqiliya, Jerusalem and Hebron. This includes instances of physical assault of school children by settlers, absent or interrupted ISF escorts to schools in areas prone to settler violence, evacuation of schools owing to the threat of settler attacks, and sewage from Israeli settlements flooding into school grounds.
In Gaza, shortages of construction materials in September due to restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities halted the ongoing construction of 13 Government schools and postponed the signing of contracts for another 26 new schools. In addition, in November, UNRWA was forced to suspend 19 out of 20 ongoing construction projects, including 22 schools.
DENIAL OF HUMANITARIAN ACCESS FOR CHILDREN
In the West Bank, in a separate case on 28 November, a 14-year-old Palestinian girl died on her way to the hospital due to delays caused by a checkpoint closure and the lack of an alternative emergency route.
The closure of Gaza since June 2007 continued to take a heavy toll on access to humanitarian assistance for the more than 80 per cent of Gazan families that are dependent on such aid. Gaza remains subject to severe restrictions on imports, exports and movement of people, by land, air and sea, including with the West Bank. While in 2013 no specific incidents of attacks against health facilities were reported, the closure of Gaza has a clear impact on the provision of health care, due to the health care system which continued to lack adequate equipment, instruments and essential medicine. Erez checkpoint, serving 1.7 million people, remains the single humanitarian access point, with partial opening hours, for persons in need of critical medical care not available within Gaza. Access for medical care outside Gaza requires considerable time for coordination with Israeli authorities and may result in delays for emergency treatment. In 2013, 4,059 out of 4,470 medical applications for children were approved, however 409 applications, including 215 boys and 194 girls, were delayed. In one particular incident, the application of a 16-year-old girl scheduled for receiving cancer treatment in Israel was delayed for 73 days. In the case of two girls, the request for access for medical needs was denied.
The number of demolitions of Palestinian structures in Area C of the West Bank and East Jerusalem remains high in 2013 (663). While the total number of tructures demolished is close to the figure recorded in 2012 (604), there has been a 25 percent increase in displacement. The largest rise in displacement was recorded in East Jerusalem (from 71 to 298), while the number of structures demolished in the Jordan Valley more than doubled (from 172 to 390), alongside a decrease in other parts of Area C.
During this reporting period, the demolition of 260 Palestinian homes and 403 Palestinian livelihood structures (mainly animal shelters and water wells) led to the forced displacement of 1,103 persons, of which 558 were children. In 2013, there has been a sharp rise in demolitions and displacement in East Jerusalem in particular, with 52 Palestinian homes and 46 livelihood structures demolished, resulting in 298 persons rendered homeless, including 153 children. This is by far the highest number of persons displaced in East Jerusalem since 2010 and more than the combined total of displaced persons in East Jerusalem from 2010 until 2012.
1When first created in 1995 as part of the Palestinian-Israeli Interim Agreement, the rea of restricted access (an area of land on the Gaza side of the 1949 Green line) was 50 meters wide. Since that time, the Government of Israel has gradually and unilaterally expanded the restricted land area. Currently, Gazans are either totally or partially prohibited to enter the area 10001500 meters from the Green Line.
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