Israeli forces shot at least 30 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in the first three months of 2015, according to a report by Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP).
Since 2000, Israeli soldiers have killed at least 8,896 Palestinians. In other words, over 580 Palestinians have been killed every year—or over 11 per week—for the past 15.25 years.
According to DCIP data, more than 1,900 of those killed were children. This means approximately 125 Palestinian children have been killed every year—or one every three days—for the past 15.25 years.
This statistic is consistent with official figures from the Ministry of Information in Ramallah. In 2013, the ministry revealed that Israeli occupation forces had killed 1,518 Palestinian children from the beginning of the second Intifada in September 2000 to April 2013, at an average of one every three days for roughly 13 years.
In this same period, according to the Ministry of Information, 6,000 children were injured as well—at a rate of over 18 per week. A spokesperson explained “Palestinian children are still subject to attacks by the Israelis and Jewish settlers on an almost daily basis.”
DCIP reported that while Israeli military regulation permits the use of live ammunition when a direct mortal threat exists, the organization found no evidence that any of the children injured in 2015 posed such a threat to Israeli forces or settlers.
“The pace at which we are documenting injuries from live ammunition in 2015 shows no sign of slowing down,” DCIP advocacy officer Olivia Watson told Ma’an.
“Last year, 11 Palestinian children died as a result of live fire used by Israeli forces.”
Only one of these cases resulted in both an investigation and an indictment.
All but one of the injuries documented by DCIP in 2015 occurred at the hands of Israeli forces. The exception took place in the occupied East Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan on Feb. 2, when an unprovoked Israeli settler shot Mohammad Burqan, 17, in the right leg.
The report marks an ongoing trend of what critics believe to be disproportionate use of force against Palestinians participating in demonstrations or responding to raids by Israeli forces throughout the West Bank.
Israeli military courts rarely prosecute members of Israeli forces in such cases. From 2000-2012, only 117 of 2,207 investigations opened by the Military Police Criminal Investigations Division were indicted, about 5% of the total files opened, according to Israeli human rights group Yesh-Din.
Watson told Ma’an the recent DCIP report did not reveal any on-the-ground improvement in Israeli policy towards children.
“The injuries sustained so far this year show that Israeli forces continue to shoot at children with impunity.”
Crimes Against Children
The Palestinian population is quite young. Almost half of Palestinians are under 18. Children suffer from a variety of forms of repression at the hands of Israeli authorities.
In the occupied territories in 2014 alone, there were 1,266 cases of Israeli forces detaining Palestinian children below the age of 15.
The PLO estimates that Israeli forces detained over 6,000 Palestinians overall in 2014, close to 16.5 per day.
A late 2014 report by the Palestinian Prisoners Club (PPC), an independent, non-governmental, human rights organization, found that at least 600 Palestinian children were arrested in five months in Jerusalem alone. Approximately 40% were sexually abused.
As for those detained, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah) indicates that, according to its studies and interviews with formerly imprisoned Palestinian children, the majority are tortured.
[Israeli] Investigators threatened children with beatings, isolation, torturing their fathers and raping their mothers and sisters; children were denied food for dozens of hours unless they confessed to the charges against them.
In its 2013 review of Israel’s child rights record, the UN Committee on the Rights of Children (CRC) also expressed “its deepest concern about the reported practice of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian children arrested, prosecuted and detained by the military and the police, and about the State party’s failure to end these practices in spite of repeated concerns expressed by treaty bodies.”
The CRC corroborated testimonies recalling Israel’s systematic use of
- physical and verbal violence,
- painful restraints,
- hooding of the head and face in a sack,
- death threats,
- physical violence,
- sexual assault against them or members of their family, and
- restricted access to toilet, food and water.