Children in Palestine face severe psychological and social problems as a result of the conflict. These problems are compounded by poverty, lack of housing, arrests and beatings of themselves or their family members, and the scarcity of water, electricity, education and health care
The lives of the millions living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank is marked by the impact of the occupation, which has affected all Palestinians in one way or another since 1948.
The actions implemented by the government and armed forces in Tel Aviv directly affect the daily lives of Palestinians, with children in particular being the most vulnerable.
According to the Central Statistics Office, there are 2.35 million children under the age of 18 in the occupied territories (including
East Jerusalem), where they account for 43.9 per cent of the total population.
In the Palestinian territories, 2.1 million people need humanitarian assistance, including 934,000 children, according to the United Nations Children’s Foundation (UNICEF).
Social Affairs Minister, Ahmed Majdalani, recently denounced the violence, brutality and criminality suffered by minors on a daily basis at the hands of the Israeli armed forces.
Systematic violations by troops from Tel Aviv not only leave a mark on our minors, but also deprive them of their most basic rights, said Majdalani.
According to the minister, five Palestinians under the age of 18 have been killed by the military since the start of 2022, in addition to the 78 killed in 2021.
Crisis in services
In its latest report, published last year, UNICEF warned of an increase in stunted growth among Palestinian children, with stunting increasing from 7.4 per cent in 2017 to 8.7 per cent in 2019–2020.
The international organisation emphasised that just 59 per cent of homes in the occupied territories have drinking water, and access is very uneven, standing at 95.1 per cent in the West Bank and only 6.3 per cent in the Gaza Strip. The situation in the Gaza Strip is critical, due to damage to the sewer, electrical and drinking water systems, largely caused by the frequent attacks by Israeli forces.
The latest military operation in the coastal enclave, in May 2021, caused economic damage totalling 570 million dollars, according to World Bank data.
A UNICEF study found that 88 per cent of infants in the territory suffered psychological damage following this wave of bombing. Like the adult population, children suffer the consequences of the wall – built by Tel Aviv in the West Bank – on a daily basis, as well as the number of control points and Jewish settlements, which have severe repercussions on access to education, water and health care.
In both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, poverty forces many children to drop out of school in order to work.
Repression and imprisonment
Another problem facing children is repression by the Israeli security forces.
A report by the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) revealed that between 2015 and the present, the police and army have arrested more than 9,000 children and adolescents.
In fact, 160 minors under the age of 18 are serving sentences in various prisons around the country.
The PPS warned that many adolescents are captured in their homes in the middle of the night, beaten in front of their families, handcuffed, denied food and water for hours on end, and interrogated without their parents present. The Israeli human rights organisation HaMoked (Centre for the Defence of the Individual) has said that night arrests are a widespread practice that violates international standards.
Adolescents are forced to confess and sign papers, without knowing what they say; they are locked up in interrogation centres for up to two months.
The Palestinian Prisoners Society criticised the delay in granting families permission to visit them. In some cases, families were even denied permission altogether.
Israel deprives many Palestinian children of the right to education, to medical treatment, and to obtain clothes, personal items and books, and punishes them in many ways.
Save the Children has denounced the existence of physical and verbal violence, threats and isolation within prisons.
A survey conducted by the organisation revealed that 80 per cent of children detained suffered beatings, verbal abuse and strip searches, while 90 per cent complained of a lack of adequate medical attention.
Almost half did not have access to a lawyer and most were threatened with attacks on their families.
Save the Children emphasised that the sentence for stone throwing is up to 20 years imprisonment. (PL)
(Translated by Rebecca Ndhlovu – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay