Palestinian children bear brunt of the Occupation

January 2, 2013
Sarah Benton

[The comparisons in square brackets have been added by JfJfP postings editor]

Occupation arrested 880 Palestinian children during 2012

Palestine Information Centre
January 01, 2013

RAMALLAH,- According to a report issued by the Department of Statistics, the total number of arrests against Palestinian children by the Israeli authorities has increased by 26% during 2012 compared to its previous year 2011.

The report indicates that the Israeli occupation forces have arrested 880 Palestinian children during 2012, with an average of 73 cases of arrest per month, considering that “a serious and alarming indicator”, in light of the continuation of targeting the children and detaining them in the jails in difficult conditions, and in light of the escalation of the serious violations against them.

The occupation authorities are still holding in its prisons and detention centers about 190 children under the age of 18, deprived from their most basic rights.

The official report noted that all the detained children have been exposed to different kinds of physical as well as psychological torture, in addition to pressure, inhuman and cruel treatment and deprivation.
It added that the Israeli authorities have been blackmailing the detained children and using force to extract their confessions, and then sentencing them to long years of imprisonment, and sometimes to life imprisonment, which is contrary to all international charters and conventions, particularly those related to child rights.

Palestinian Children –Issues and Statistics

Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics
Child Statistics Series (No. 15), Annual Report, 2012

This consists of extracts from the report, and some summaries of the information.  For the full report click the headline above.

Eleven out of 100 under 5 children suffer chronic malnutrition, the highest proportion in the Hebron governorate (16.9% compared with 9.9% in Gaza strip). (These positions have been significantly reversed in the last two years when malnutrition in Gaza far outstripped that in all the other governorates)

Infant mortality

Infant mortality had been declining but began to rise after 2000. In 2006-10 the infant mortality rate was 20 per 1000 live births, 22.4 Gaza strip. [Comparative figures – 2.6 Singapore (lowest) , 5.38 UK, Egypt 35.33, Afghanistan 144.01 (highest)]

Diarrhoea is increasing, in the West Bank– up from 11.5 in 2006 to 14.8 in 2010; while in Gaza it came down from 12.1 in 2006 [period/incidence of diarrhoea not defined].

Basic School Enrollment [increasing, especially among girls]
Students at the basic stage had increased from 572,529 in the scholastic year 1994/1995 to 967,300 in the scholastic year 2010/2011, marking an increase rate of 68.9%. Females and males constituted 49.7% and 50.3% respectively.

Female enrollment ratio in the basic education stage in the scholastic year 2010/2011 was 98.9 female students per 100 male students among basic school stage; there were 98.9 female students per 100 male students in the West Bank and 98.9 per 100 male students in Gaza Strip.

3.4 Secondary School Enrollment
Students at secondary education stage had increased from 45,339 in 1994/1995 to 149,691 students during the scholastic years 2010/2011, reflecting an increase of 230.1%. Female students constituted 54.8% of the total number students in the secondary stage in the scholastic year 2010/2011, compared to 45.5% in 1995/1996.

Academic education is still more attractive than vocational education. The number of students enrolled in vocational high school reached 9,621 in the scholastic year 2010/2011 representing 6.4% of the total number of secondary school students. Female students constituted only 35.7% of vocational high school students. On the other hand, they constituted 56.2% of academic secondary school students.

Class crowding
Comparing classroom density according to region, it is noticed that classroom density in basic schooling schools is higher in Gaza Strip than in the West Bank (36.0 students per classroom in Gaza Strip and 28.6 students per classroom in the West Bank in 2010/2011). At the secondary schooling stage, class density was 36.4 in Gaza Strip and 24.3 in the West Bank in 2010/2011.

The case worsens at UNRWA schools where classroom density in the basic schooling stage was 36.0 compared with 30.8 students at governmental schools. However, the figure for private schools was 23.7 students per classroom in 2010/2011 (UNRWA does not provide secondary stage education).

Use of internet
Children’s education and culture is a basic function of culture as a social process of upbringing and transforming the newborn from a biological entity into a social being. Cultures go beyond socialization to develop the child’s personality and national identity.

Solidification of cultural and recreational rights of Palestinian children have been made through the incorporation of these rights into the Palestinian child national plan, prepared by the national committee and endorsed by the PNA in 1995. The plan is in line with the International Convention of the Rights of the Child sanctioned by the UN General Assembly in 1989. The child’s cultural and recreational rights have since become inseparable parts of the child’s rights as a human being, as stated in the Article 31 of this Convention.

The culture of Palestinian children stems from Palestinian Arabic heritage, philosophy, religion, norms, values, traditions, the 1988 Declaration of Independence, and the national Palestinian, Arab and Islamic aspirations. Knowledge and information are acquired through the Arabic language by which interpersonal communication, self-expression, and openness to the Arab culture are made possible. The child’s knowledge is also enriched through arts, music, literature, technology, and investment in recreational activities and leisure time.

4.1 Using Computer
Percentage of children (10-17 years) who use computers amounted to 75.1%, (of which 81.9% in West Bank and 64.4% in Gaza Strip), with no significant differences between males (76.7%) and females (73.5%) in 2011.

4.2 Using Internet About the extent of knowledge and use of the internet by children aged 10-17 years old, the results showed that four out of ten children (43.6%) have internet service and know and use it, while four out of ten children (39.0%) do not have the minimum knowledge of the internet.

Furthermore, findings revealed that the most common reason for using the Internet were: leisure and entertainment purposes 32.8%, (33.5% for males and 31.9% for females), while it was 26.0% in 2006, and study and research 23.3% (16.2% for males and 31.3% for females) compared to 25.6% in 2006, and email service 21.8%,(28.6% for males and 14.1% for females), while it was 8.7% in 2006,

[Internet usage all Palestinians = 55%. children with internet access = 31.8% [UK =80% ] 98% of Palestinian households with children had TV making television the most widely used medium of news and entertainment.]

Children in need of special protection
[CRC = United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child-1989]

Defined as –
-Children’s separation from their parents due to institutionalization, hospitalization,
family de-unification, adoption, or deprivation from family environment (CRC, Articles 9, 10, 20, and 21).
– Other subgroups in need of special protection are children subject to all kinds of physical, sexual and mental/emotional abuse (CRC, Articles 19 and 34).
– Disabled children (CRC, Articles 23).
– Poor children (CRC, Articles 26 and 27).
– Employed children (CRC, Article 32).
– Children exploited to the use, sale and trafficking of drugs (CRC, Article 35).
– Children deprived of their liberty or receiving juvenile institutional care (CRC, Articles 37 and 40).
– Children afflicted by violence and armed conflicts (CRC, Articles 38 and 39).

5.1 Children Living in Poverty
T he vast majority of Palestinian households at 80.1% are with children. .[57% of UK households are childless]. The poverty rate in 2010 indicated that the rate of the total distribution of poverty among Palestinian households in the Palestinian territory was 21.4% in 2010 (using consumption data), of which 22.8% is among households with children and 15.8% is among households without children.

More significantly, it is the fact that the poverty data indicated that 16.0% of the households in West Bank were suffering from poverty in 2010 (16.4% among households with children and 14.6% among households without children), while 31.9% of households in Gaza Strip were suffering from poverty in 2010 (34.4% among households with children and 18.8% among households without children).

5.3 Child Labor
About 65,000 children; 6.0 % of children aged 5-14 years are working children paid or unpaid in 2010; 8.0% in the West Bank and 3.1% in Gaza Strip, and it is clear that male children who are engaged in working is higher; 7.7% compared to 4.2% female children.

The Concept of Child Labour
It has recently been acknowledged to differentiate between two kinds of child labor, ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ kinds because an overall and general look at all child labor distorts the problem. This view leads to extra difficulties concerning ending the violations.

The extent of the impact of child labor on a child’s growth is the main criterion to decide when it becomes a problem. For example, safe work for adults may be harmful for children. The following are the main growth characteristics of children which are affected by child labor: physical growth, including general health, physiological growth, sight and hearing, knowledge development ability, reading, writing, calculating and gaining necessary knowledge for daily life, emotional development; self esteem, family unity, love and accepting others, and social and moral development; being a member of a group, cooperation and distinguishing between wrong and right.

The prevalence of the child labor phenomenon in Palestinian society has become a cause for concern which demands greater interest and effective procedures to stop it from expanding. Many studies in different countries highlighted the negative impact of this phenomenon on the political, social and economical structure of the society and the future of the young. It is also a severe violation of the most basic of children’s rights. The argument in this area has two main dimensions: using laws and legislation to overthrow this phenomenon, and an indepth understanding of the social, cultural, economical and political factors causing, reinforcing and controlling it..

The Educational Status of Children in Labor
There is a relationship between employed children and their educational level and attainment, the family economic conditions, and the social position concerning education because working entails leaving school. Consequently, their earning continues to be continuously low even in adult age. In some cases, some parents consider education a waste of time. They sometimes ‘sacrifice’ by having one or two sons leave school and contribute to the family income for educating their brothers. Expenses of education, to some families, are considered a direct loss (fees, stationery and clothes) and indirect loss (losing children’s supposed income) all of which makes children’s learning a heavy burden on parents. It sometimes happens that some children do not go to school or drop out for many reasons: failing in the class which is harmful to children’s psychology or costly to poor families, physical punishment and continuous beating, unsuitable timing of study for children working in agriculture, distant studying place (mainly for girls) and the absence of transportation.

The Percentage of children aged 5-14 years attending school and also engaged in child labor was 5.9% in 2010; 7.8 % in the West Bank and 3.0 % in Gaza Strip, and it was 7.5 % among male children attending school compared to 4.1% among females.

Violence against children
Three per cent of male children 12-17 were exposed to violence by the IOF in the year to July 2011, nearly all in the West Bank.

Parents are the First to Practice Violence Against Children
51.0% of children 12-17 years were exposed to violence inside the household by one individual member of the household in 2011; 45.8% in West Bank compared to 59.4% in Gaza Strip; 69.0% of them were exposed to psychological violence by their parents, and 34.4% to physical violence compared to 66.4% of these children were exposed to psychological violence and 34.5% to physical violence by their mothers .

The Israeli occupation deprives detained Palestinian children from their basic rights awarded by international agreements regardless of their religion, race or ethnicity. These rights prohibit random imprisonment, and guarantee knowing the reason of imprisonment, the right of having a lawyer, informing families about the reason and place of their children’s imprisonment, connections to the outside word, refuting the allegations and having human and dignified treatment. Many international charters state that torturing children is taboo in prisons and jails:

“Torturing, severe punishment, inhuman and undignified treatment are prohibited. ” (International Declaration of Human Rights, Article 5). “Every member country undertakes that all kinds or torturing are war crimes in its criminal law including any person involved in torturing.” (Convention Against Torture, Article 4). “No exceptional conditions such as war condition or threatening by war or any political instability or crises and emergency cases are excuses for torturing.” (Convention Against Torture, Article 2-2).

“Each is prohibited from taking any measure of such a character as to cause the physical suffering or extermination of Protected Persons in their hands. This prohibition applies not only to murder, torture, corporal punishments, mutilation, and medical or scientific experiments not necessitated by the medical treament of a Protected Person but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or miltiary agents.” (The Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 32)

Despite these charters and international agreements, Israel violates these norms and practices by using extreme types of psychological and physical punishment against Palestinian children in jails not only during interrogations but during other stages. These quotations talk about young and old individuals. But the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 37-d, states that: “Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance…before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority…”

In many cases, lawyers do not have easy access to their clients who are also judged in courts for adults. Moreover, children of Jerusalem are jailed with Jewish criminals who threaten their lives. It is worth mentioning that Israel is a signatory to all treaties and international charters for children.

Israel practices racial discrimination against Palestinian children. It has a double-standard law when dealing with Jewish children who receive a fair judgment. Furthermore, Israel considers Jewish children to be those under18 while Palestinian children are those under 16 years old. According to the data of the Ministry for Detainees and Prisoners in 2012, the Israeli occupation authorities are holding 179 child in the age group13-18 years, amid harsh conditions and flagrant violations of all rights. Detained children constitute about 4.4% of the total detainees in Israeli jails. Among the detained children, there are (42) serving sentenced terms, (136) awaiting pending trial, and (1) children are under administrative detention without charge. It is worth mentioning in this context that hundreds of detainees were arrested when they were children and now they are over the age of 18 years but still in captivity inside Israeli jails. According to the same source, the Israeli occupation authorities exercise harsh methods of arrest and interrogation of Palestinian children in Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Furthermore, the Israeli occupation authorities deprive detained children of the most basic rights granted by international and human rights conventions, specifically the right to not be subjected to arbitrary arrest, the right to know the reason for the arrest, the right to have an attorney, the right of families to know the cause and place of detention, the right to appear before a judge, the right to object to charges and challenge them, the right to communicate with the outside world, and the right to humane treatment that maintain the dignity of the detained child.

Torture of Children in Israeli jails
According to data of the Ministry for Detainees and Ex-War Prisonersof2012, the Israeli occupation authorities used detention and interrogation methods against children in the same anner as with adult detainees. Children detainees are subjected from the moment of arrest to varying types of torture, humiliation, and cruel treatment. Children detainees are forcefully and brutally taken away from their homes in late night hours and are subjected to degrading treatment while being transported to detention centers. In addition, these children are usually subjected to various methods of investigation along with unfair arbitrary court procedures.

Interrogation methods with children include the beating with a focus on the upper body parts and head, body burning with cigarette, threat to deport their families, head sacking, blowing up homes, cuffing hands and legs, blindfolding, the use of electric shocks, and ghosting (forced to stand up against the wall with hands up for long period of time). In addition, the Israeli authorities exercise inhumane interrogation methods that include deprivation of sleep for several days, applying psychological stress, insults and verbal abuse, as well as violent shaking (carrying the child and shake him frequently till the child loses conscious).

Detained children are also subjected to torture methods such as spraying them with cold and hot water for long periods, forcing them to eat ice cubes, in addition to applying loud noise to the ears causing great harm and psychological stress to the detained child.

According to the same source, the most serious type of torture and interrogation that children suffer is to confine them in same detention room notoriously known as “disgrace rooms” with collaborators in order to extract confessions deceptively, as well as to threaten detained children with imprisonment for long periods, demolition of their homes as well as the arrest of members of the family, if they do not cooperate with Israeli intelligence.

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