DCI-Palestine has released the report: Recruitment and Use of Palestinian Children in Armed Conflict. The recruitment and use of children in armed conflict is prohibited under international law, and can take many forms, ranging from direct involvement in fighting, to subsidiary roles, such as acting as informants. The prohibition also includes using children as human shields. The report finds that in the context of the military occupation of the Palestinian Territory, both Israel and Palestinian armed groups have violated the prohibition.
The report covers an eight year period between 2004 and 2011 (the reporting period), and identifies three circumstances where children are particularly vulnerable to recruitment by both parties to the conflict:
The key findings of the report include:
1. In 16 out of the 17 cases documented involving the use of Palestinian children as human shields, the event occurred after a ruling by the Israeli High Court of Justice declared the practice illegal. This suggests that the Israeli army is either ignoring the court’s judgment, or not properly ensuring compliance with its ruling. It is also significant to note that in only one case, was anybody held accountable for using a child as a human shield.
2. The report identifies 16 cases in which attempts were made by Israeli interrogators to recruit children as informants. Most attempts at recruitment occur during interrogation following arrest and the report identifies a number of methods, including the offer of money and early release. Due to the sensitive nature of the subject and the reluctance to talk, it is difficult to ascertain the scale of the problem, although there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that the practice is widespread.
3. Finally, the report identifies 26 cases involving the recruitment and use of children by Palestinian armed groups during the reporting period. It is significant to note that in 23 out of 26 cases (88 percent), the children were from the Gaza Strip. It is also significant that in all 26 cases (100 percent) the evidence indicates that the children were not forcefully conscripted, but volunteered to join a group or to participate in hostilities. When asked why they volunteered, the children gave reasons ranging from patriotism to the “oppression” of the occupation and the killing and imprisonment of family members. The report finds that the recruitment and use of children by Palestinian armed groups increases during large scale incursions by the Israeli army, but such involvement does not appear to be either widespread or systematic.
The full report is available on line and hard copies are available on request.