20 November marks World Children’s Day. On this day in 1959, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Thirty years later, in 1989, the General Assembly also adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the landmark treaty relating to the protection of children's human rights.
In Palestine, this occasion comes at a time of continued Israeli violations against Palestinian civilians, especially children, in complete disregard of its human rights obligations under the CRC and under UN Security Council resolution 1612 concerning the protection of children during armed conflict. In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Israeli forces continue to violate Palestinian children’s rights by employing excessive or lethal force while conducting military operations or raids on Palestinian cities and towns, as well as by isolating residents, denying them access to basic services, and restricting their freedom of movement. According to Defence for Children – Palestine, at the time of writing, in 2022 Israeli forces or settlers shot and killed 32 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank.
In the occupied Gaza Strip—where since 2007 Israel has maintained a land, sea and air blockade and comprehensive settler-colonial closure—children make up 47% of Gaza’s two million population, with over 800,000 Palestinian children that have never known life without the closure. Palestinian economic, social, and cultural rights have been impacted by Israel’s illegal practices against the Gaza Strip, which have also doubled poverty and unemployment rates. Furthermore, clear signs of malnutrition have emerged. According to UNRWA, nearly 1.1 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip now rely on food aid.
At the same time, Israeli recurrent military attacks on the Gaza Strip, which primarily target civilians and their property, repeatedly traumatize Palestinian children. Al Mezan’s documentation shows that in the Gaza Strip, between 20 November 2021 and 20 November 2022, Israeli forces killed eight Palestinian children, injured 49, detained 26, and uprooted 398 during August military aggression. Additionally, three Palestinian children who needed medical care outside of Gaza were unable to leave the Strip because of Israel’s discriminatory permit regime applied at Erez crossing, ultimately dying without receiving lifesaving medical treatment unavailable in Gaza.
On World Children’s Day, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern about the international community’s failure to uphold its legal obligations under international humanitarian law and international humanitarian law towards the Palestinian people and Palestinian children specifically. As opposed to being silent in the face of Israel’s daily abuses, the international community should promptly intervene to stop Israel’s violations against Palestinian children and protect them from the effects of the Israeli military attacks, call for the immediate lifting of the closure and blockade imposed on Gaza, and ensure compliance with international humanitarian law and end Israel's immunity that encourages it to commit further violations.