An independent United Nations human rights expert today warned about the dire situation faced by Palestinian children due to the Israeli occupation, saying that they continue to be subjected to attacks, harassment, detention and abuse.
The “rapidly deteriorating human rights situation as a result of the prolonged Israeli occupation disproportionately affects children,” Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, said in a news release issued at the end of an eight-day visit to Cairo and Amman.
Since 2000, he noted, 1,335 Palestinian children have been killed as a result of the presence of the Israeli military and settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory.
“The arbitrary opening of fire by Israeli military against Palestinian children is appalling,” he said, adding that the policies of land confiscation, expansion of settlements, home demolitions and forced displacement of families, revocation of residency permits and restrictions on freedom of movement continue to have a greater impact on children.
He stated that Israel continues to arbitrarily arrest, detain and abuse children, noting that 226 children are currently in Israeli detention, including 45 who are between 12 and 15 years old.
“Children continue to be arrested at night, at checkpoints or off the street. Upon arrest, children and their families are seldom informed of the charges against them,” said Mr. Falk, who reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.
“Arresting children for stone throwing, particularly in East Jerusalem, has been on the rise. Children report that they were blindfolded, beaten or kicked at the time of arrest and put at the back of a military vehicle where they were subject to further physical and psychological abuse on the way to the interrogation and detention centre.
“It is noteworthy that the perpetrators of these violations against Palestinian children face no accountability for their actions,” stated the Special Rapporteur, who also noted that, unlike Israeli juvenile offenders, Palestinian children are tried in the Juvenile Military Court.
Mr. Falk also said that Palestinian children continue to be deprived of their right to education, citing figures indicating a shortage of 40,000 classrooms at the start of the 2010-2011 school year, and difficulties in obtaining permits to build new schools.
The international community “should spare no effort in compelling Israel to comply with its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, end this prolonged and illegal occupation and fully respect the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people,” he stressed.
The Special Rapporteur was prevented by Israeli authorities from visiting the occupied Palestinian territory during his mission, as has been the case since his appointment in 2008. He was also due to visit the Gaza Strip but had to cancel due to the security situation there.