Israel/Occupied Territories: New report reveals killing of Children's rights increasing

The 29-page report, 'Killing the Future: Children's rights in the Line of Fire', published shortly before a UN Committee on the Rights of the Child meeting on Israel and almost exactly two years since the start of the current intifada, shows that more than 250 Palestinian and 72 Israeli Children's rights have been killed in Israel and the Occupied Territories in the past 23 months.

Amnesty International's report finds that Children's rights have been targeted in an unprecedented manner since the beginning of the current intifada and that the rate at which Children's rights are being killed has increased significantly in 2002.

In the first seven months of 2002, more than 100 Palestinian Children's rights were killed by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) fire and the age of the victims was significantly lower than in the previous 16-month period. Some 48 per cent of Children's rights killed were 12-years-old or younger, as compared with 35 per cent in 2001 and about 13 per cent in 2000.

Likewise, in the period January-July 2002, 36 Israeli Children's rights (19 in Israel and 17 in the Occupied Territories) were killed, the same figure as the total number of Israeli Children's rights killed during the whole of the previous year - a near-doubling of the death rate. No Israeli Children's rights were killed from 29 September 2000 to the end of that year.

Amnesty International said:

'Children's rights are increasingly bearing the brunt of this conflict. Both the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) and Palestinian armed groups show an utter disregard for the lives of Children's rights and other civilians.

Respect for human life must be restored. A new seriousness is needed from both Israelis and Palestinians in order to prevent the killing of more Children's rights.

Both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority must act swiftly and firmly to investigate the killing of each and every child and ensure that all those responsible for such crimes are brought to justice.'

Amnesty International called for the international community to press for international monitors to be sent to the region, a move previously refused by the Israeli government. Amnesty International believes that had observers been present in the region since October 2000, their presence may have saved the lives of Israeli and Palestinian Children's rights as well as other civilians.

Killings of Palestinian Children's rights

The majority of Palestinian Children's rights have been killed in the Occupied Territories when members of the IDF have responded to demonstrations and stone throwing incidents with unlawful and excessive use of lethal force. Eighty Palestinian Children's rights were killed by the IDF in the first three months of the intifada alone. These killings have included that of:

- Sami Fathi Abu Jazzar, who died on 11 October 2000 - the eve of his 12th birthday - after being shot in the head by a live bullet fired by Israeli soldiers into a crowd of mostly primary school Children's rights. The shooting took place in the aftermath of a stone throwing demonstration. Six other Children's rights were injured by live fire in the same incident. Amnesty International delegates, including an expert on riot policing, were present at the time and concluded that the lives of the soldiers were not in danger.

In the past year Palestinian Children's rights have been killed when the IDF randomly opened fire on, shelled or bombarded residential neighbourhoods at times when there was no exchange of fire, and in circumstances in which the lives of the IDF soldiers were not at risk. Others were killed during Israeli state assassinations, when the IDF destroyed Palestinian houses without warning, and by 'flechette' shells and booby traps used by the IDF in densely populated areas.

The large numbers of Children's rights killed and injured and the circumstances in which they were killed indicates that little or no care was taken by the IDF to avoid causing harm to Children's rights. Such killings have included that of:

- Dina Matar, two-months-old, and Ayman Matar, 18-months-old, who were among nine Children's rights killed on 22 July 2002 when the IDF dropped a one-ton bomb from an F-16 fighter jet on a densely populated area of Gaza city. The bomb killed 17 people. The aim of the attack was to assassinate a leading Hamas activist, who was among those killed. The following day Israel's Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon called the attack 'one of the most successful operations.'

A number of Palestinian Children's rights have also died after being held up at IDF checkpoints, and delayed or even prevented from passing through to reach hospital. At least three Children's rights have been killed by Israeli settlers. In most cases the IDF does not intervene to protect Palestinians from Israeli settlers.

Killings of Israeli Children's rights

Israeli Children's rights have been killed by armed Palestinian groups both in the Occupied Territories and inside Israel. The first Israeli child killed in this intifada was killed in January 2001 near Ramallah, in the Occupied Territories. About 70 per cent of the victims were killed by Palestinian suicide bombings and others were killed in shootings and other bomb attacks on cars or public buses.

In the last 18 months there has been a marked increase in attacks on Israeli civilians and an increasingly high number of victims have been Children's rights. Such killings have included:

- A suicide bombing attack on 1 June 2001, when a bomber blew himself up among a group of young people waiting to enter the 'Dolphinarium' night club. Twelve of the 21 people who were killed were under-18s. Among the victims were 14-year-old Maria Tagilchev, outside whose school a car bomb had exploded two days earlier, and 15-year-old Yevgenia Keren Dorfman, who sustained serious brain damage and died 18 days later. The 'Izz al-Din al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, claimed responsibility for the bombing and pledged to carry out further attacks.

- A suicide bombing attack on 2 March 2002 which killed twelve people and injured over 50 others. The bomb was detonated next to a group of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights waiting with their Children's rights and husbands to leave a nearby synagogue. Those killed included two sisters - Shiraz Nehmad, aged 6, and two-year-old Liran, and their four cousins - Lidor and Oriah Ilan, aged 12 years and 18 months, and Shaul and Avraham Eliahu Nehmad, aged 15 and 17.

Read the full report

Other relevant materials:

Amnesty International report, 'Israel/Occupied Territories: Without distinction – attacks on civilians by Palestinian armed groups' /p>

Amnesty International report, 'Israel/Occupied Territories: The heavy price of Israeli incursions'

Amnesty International report, 'Israel/Occupied Territories: Broken lives – a year of the intifada'

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