Palestine: The Forgotten Childhood

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Palestine Monitor, 24 July 2010
In 1991 Israel ratified The Convention of the Rights of a Child. The 54 articles of the Convention focus on the human rights of a child which include civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. Despite Israel’s ratification of the Convention, Palestinian children are still victims of human rights abuses in all of these categories.

The occupied Palestinian territories have one of the highest birthrates in the region. Over 50 % of the population is under the age of 18. Thirty percent of the population in Palestine falls below the poverty line. Of the poor, 54 % are children.

In 2009, more that 300 children lost their homes after they were demolished from order of the Israeli authorities.

Not including Operation Cast Lead, since January 2009, Israeli army have killed 20 children. In the last ten years 1,333 Palestinian children have been killed in conflict.

Many children do not have direct or safe passage to schools. Children as young as age six walk up to forty-five minutes to get to school because of the separation barrier, road closures, and/or settlements.

In the South Hebron Hills many children are subjected to violence attacks by settlers on their way to school. Since 2004, 92 children have been victims of violence from settlers.

Thirty-five percent of the time, soldiers did not walk with the children and 85% of the time the military escorts failed to complete the full journey to school, leaving children unaccompanied and vulnerable to violence.

Around 700 adolescents between 12 and 17 are detained by the Israeli military each year. In contravention of international law, most prisons that detain children are in Israel which significantly limits family access.

The psychological impact on children is profound. According to UNICEF, nearly of third of all children experience anxiety, phobia, or depression. Over 50,000 children received psychosocial counseling to help them cope with violence.

Nearly 10% of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition. Anemia is problematic for nearly 50% of children under the age of two and vitamin A deficiency is endemic in 70 % of children.

The unemployment rate in the occupied Palestinian territories is over 20%. Thirty percent of children drop out of school at age 16 and 17. The boys need to find work to help the family financially and the girls are pressured into marriage.