Over 50 Palestinian children killed by Israel this year

30th Nov 2018
Over 50 Palestinian children killed by Israel this year

Relatives mourn over the body of 12-year-old Nasir Musbih, who was killed by Israeli gunfire during demonstrations within the Great March of Return, at the morgue of the European Hospital in Khan Yunis, Gaza on September 28

(Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency)

Hamed Chapman

Israeli forces have killed at least 52 Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since January this year, according to the Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P).

In a statement released on the occasion of International Children’s Day (November 20), the Geneva-based Non-Governmental Organisation said 48 of the deaths occurred in the blockaded Gaza Strip while the remainder happened in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

It went on to accuse the Israeli military of using excessive force – including live ammunition – against children. More than 2,070 Palestinian children are estimated to have been killed – either by Israeli troops, security guards or Jewish settlers – since 2000.

Among the children killed so far this year by Israeli troops, 18 were shot in the head, while another 21 were shot in the chest, neck or abdomen, DCI-P reported. The bulk of the fatalities, as well as those injured, were during the Great March of Return that started on March 30.

Out of 175 Palestinian civilians killed during the suppression of the march by Israeli Security Forces, no less than 33 were children, including six who had disabilities as well as a girl.

According to the Ministry of Health, 1,685 children were among 9,423 Palestinian civilians wounded, including over 500 seriously, during the same period. The injuries have led to 17 children having their limbs amputated out of more than 130 suffering amputees.

The Great March of Return commemorates Land Day, when Israeli police shot and killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel on March 30, 1976, as they protested against the Israeli Government’s expropriation of land. Protests have been held annually since calling for the right of return of Palestinian refugees, a right enshrined in international law.

During 2017 Israeli forces killed 14 children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported. At least 961 children were injured by Israeli forces in 2017.

Accountability is extremely rare in cases where Israeli forces are accused of committing crimes against Palestinian children. Israeli rights group Yesh Din reported that of 186 internal investigations into Israeli soldiers accused of harming Palestinians in 2015, only 3.1 per cent of cases yielded an indictment.

Between February and November in 2017, an average of 310 Palestinian children were in the Israeli prison system each month for “security offences,” according to Israel Prison Service (IPS) data.

Among them were an average of 60 children between the ages of 12 and 15. The IPS does not release the yearly total number of incarcerated Palestinian children and has stopped consistently releasing monthly data since May 2016.

Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes an estimated 500 to 700 children each year in military courts lacking fundamental fair trial rights.

Children within the Israeli military system commonly report physical and verbal abuse from the moment of their arrest and coercion and threats during interrogations.

CIP collected affidavits from 137 West Bank children detained and prosecuted under the jurisdiction of Israeli military courts in 2017. The data shows that 74.5 per cent of children endured some form of physical violence following their arrest and 62 per cent were verbally abused, intimidated, or humiliated.

Of the 137 children, 26 were held in solitary confinement for interrogation purposes for an average period of 12 days. The longest period of isolation for a child that DCIP documented in 2017 was 23 days.

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