Israel and State of Palestine

The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/68/878–S/2014/339) issued on 15 May 2014.

Palestinian and Israeli children continued to be affected by the prevailing situation of military occupation, conflict and closure. Eight Palestinian children
(six boys and two girls) were killed and 1,265 were injured in the occupied Palestinian territories in 2013. In the West Bank, an upsurge was observed in the number of Palestinian children killed and injured by Israeli security forces during clashes and as a result of violence by Israeli settlers. Eight Israeli children were injured in the West Bank in incidents related to the presence of Israeli settlements, while no Israeli children were killed in 2013.

In the West Bank, four Palestinian boys were killed by live ammunition, including three during incursions by Israeli security forces into the Al Jalazun, Jenin and Ayda refugee camps. Incursions into camps have increased by 60 per cent compared with 2012. For example, on 7 December 2013, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed by the Israel Defense Forces near Al Jalazun, allegedly while throwing stones at the soldiers. The Israeli authorities under the Military Advocate General opened investigations in all four cases, which were under review at the time of reporting. The 1,235 children injured in the West Bank constitute more than double the number injured in 2012 (552). Of the 1,235, 961 were injured during clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians during demonstrations, 183 during military operations, including search and arrest operations in villages or camps, four as a result of unexploded ordnances, and 86 as a result of settler violence, which saw a significant increase during 2013. During settler-related incidents, 49 children were injured directly by Israeli settlers by physical assault and stones or glass bottles thrown against Palestinian houses or cars. Of the 1,235 children injured in the West Bank, 155 were under the age of 12. Eight Israeli children were injured in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including as a result of stone throwing by Palestinians (seven) and, in one incident, live ammunition shot towards the Psagot settlement.

In Gaza, most cases of killing and maiming Palestinian children occurred between January and March 2013, following the November 2012 Israeli military offensive “Pillar of Defence”. Three Palestinian children were killed, including two boys in unexploded ordnance-related incidents and, on 24 December 2013, a three-year-old girl in a shelling by Israeli security forces of a building in Al Maghazi refugee camp. Ten children were injured during military operations in Gaza, including by live ammunition gun shots and tear gas canisters, and 20 others as a result of unexploded ordnance incidents.

In 2013, Palestinian children continued to be arrested and detained by Israeli security forces and prosecuted in juvenile military courts. By the end of December, 154 boys, between 14 and 17 years of age (including 14 under the age of 16) were held in Israeli military detention for alleged security violations, including in pretrial detention (106) and serving a sentence (48). The Government of Israel reported that 1,004 children were arrested by Israeli security forces in 2013; 349 were released the same day and 655 were referred to the Military Advocate General. The United Nations documented 107 cases of ill-treatment during arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention, including against children below the age of 12 in five cases. All of the 107 boys reported having been subjected to cruel and degrading ill-treatment by the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli police, including painful restraint, blindfolding, strip-searching, verbal and physical abuse, solitary confinement and threats of violence. This number represents an estimated 15 per cent of the total number of Palestinian children arrested and detained in the West Bank by Israeli security forces in 2013. Fifty-one children reported being arrested at night and
45 children reported being arrested during clashes, demonstrations and at other friction points. Reported use of physical violence against children, including with sticks, increased with a majority of the cases reported in the first half of 2013. The Israeli authorities received 15 formal complaints in 2013 related to the reported abuse of Palestinian children during arrest, interrogation and detention. No cases have resulted in dismissal, indictment or arrest to date. In addition, five cases of threats of sexual violence were reported, compared with two cases in 2012. A higher percentage of children were detained in prison facilities inside Israel (76 per cent, compared with 63 in 2012) with at least three out of four children being transferred outside the occupied Palestinian territory in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

A regular bilateral dialogue between the United Nations at the field level and the Military Prosecutor for the West Bank was ongoing at the time of reporting and has produced a number of results, including an Israel Defense Forces agreement to pilot test the use of summonses in lieu of night arrests. However, incidents have occurred where children were threatened while being summoned, and other summons were presented during night raids. I remain hopeful that the pilot process will be fully implemented and provide adequate protection for children. In addition, two Military Orders were issued in relation to children arrested and detained for alleged security violations. The orders reduced the time a Palestinian child could be detained prior to appearing before a military court judge for the first time; however, the time periods provided in military law are still longer than what is provided to Israeli children under Israeli law.

Fifty-eight education-related incidents affecting 11,935 children were reported in the West Bank, resulting in damage to school facilities, interruption of classes and injury to children. Forty-one incidents involved Israeli security forces operations near or inside schools, forced entry without forewarning, the firing of tear gas canisters and sound bombs into school yards and, in some cases, structural damage to schools. In 15 of the incidents, Israeli security forces fired tear gas canisters into schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), some during class hours, without forewarning. In a majority of instances, schoolchildren and teachers were delayed or prevented from going to school owing to checkpoints, areas closed for military operations or exercises, military patrols in front of schools and preventive closures by the Israel Defense Forces. In 32 cases, teachers and children were arrested inside the school, at checkpoints or on their way to school. A further 15 incidents were related to settler violence in the areas of Nablus, Qalqiliya, Jerusalem and Hebron. This included physical assault of schoolchildren by settlers, absent or interrupted Israeli security forces escorts to schools in areas prone to settler violence, the evacuation of schools owing to the threat of settler attacks and sewage from Israeli settlements intentionally flooding school grounds. According to the Government of Israel,
63 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel during 2013, resulting in school interferences for 12,229 Israeli children. The ceasefire understanding between the Government of Israel and Hamas resulted in a marked reduction of attacks on schools in Gaza. One incident was reported on 25 December, when Israeli security forces fired rockets damaging two schools. Shortages of construction materials in September 2013 owing to Israeli restrictions halted the construction of 13 Government schools, postponed the construction of another 26 and, in November, forced UNRWA to suspend the construction of 22 schools.

The Israeli blockade of Gaza since June 2007 continued to take a heavy toll on the more than 80 per cent of Gazan families dependent on humanitarian assistance. In 2013, 4,059 of 4,470 medical applications for children were approved; however, 409 applications, including for 215 boys and 194 girls, were delayed, usually as a result of the denial or delay of a permit for the child’s parent. In one incident, the application of a 16-year-old girl scheduled to receive cancer treatment in Israel was delayed for 73 days. The recent movement restrictions imposed by the Government of Egypt have also affected the access to medical referrals.

I commend the State of Palestine for acceding to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.