Jenin, named for the West Bank refugee camp besieged by violence in 2002, is five years old, and a resident of Beit Hanoun in North Gaza. Photo: Osama Damo/Save the Children Feb 24 2009
Throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, the situation of human rights of children remains dire. 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. Children are particularly vulnerable to settlers’ violent attacks and harassment.
In Gaza, the continued Israeli blockade has significantly affected the right of children to food, health and education. Psychological trauma from the Israeli attack on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009 continues to affect children more disproportionately1.
Children live in a precarious and unsafe environment, denied the enjoyment of many of their basic rights on a daily basis. Violations include killing, maiming, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, home demolitions, discrimination, harassment and restrictions on movement of people and goods.
In addition, Palestinian children suffer the negative effect of the policies of a disempowered and undermined Palestinian National Authority (PNA), as well as vulnerability to violence in the community, homes and schools2.
Harmful traditional practices:
The oPt is still at large a tribal society adherent to traditional rules and norms. Girls are often housebound and marry at an early age. Of all women who got married in 2009, about 23% were under the age of eighteen years. The average age at first marriage was 19.9 for females3. Honour killings remain a problem in Gaza and the West Bank. According to Human Rights Watch the killing of female relatives “remains a serious physical threat to Palestinian women”.
Children without appropriate care and children on the move:
Palestinian Refugees account for around 40% of the population in the oPt and more than two thirds of the population in Gaza (UNRWA)4. 70% of Gaza's children are refugees5. The percentage of Palestinian refugee girls married by age 18 is 35.4% in Gaza and 34.7% in the West Bank5. Overcrowding of schools remains one of the biggest challenges for the education sector in Gaza. Over 90% of UNRWA schools are running double shifts to accommodate the volume of students and lack of schools7. In 2007 80% of Palestinian refugees in the OPT were living below the poverty line as compared to 20% in 2000.
Emergency situations and children:
The blockade of Gaza has had a serious impact on children’s access to health care, nutrition and education. Between 2009 and 2010 ten children have died due to delays in accessing critical care. Chronic malnutrition in children has doubled from 1.2 per cent in 2006 to 2.4 per cent in 2008 8.
3.7% of Palestinian children are employed. Children in the oPt entering the workforce can encounter dangerous work environments such as rock crushing, construction, and work in the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt9. Since March 2010, Israeli soldiers along the border with Gaza have shot 17 children while they collected building gravel in the Gaza so-called “buffer zone” to support their families10.
Domestic violence is widespread within the oPt. About 50% of Palestinian children are subject to violence, of which 93% have suffered it at home11.
Save the Children Family Centres Gaza
- Child Rights Situation Analysis 2010
- PCBS, “Palestinian children, issues and statistics”, 2011, http://www.pcbs.gov.ps/Portals/_PCBS/Downloads/book1744.pdf
- PCBS Labour Force Survey 2011 http://www.pcbs.gov.ps/Portals/_PCBS/Downloads/book1744.pdf