Ramallah, October 21, 2023—Israeli forces’ attacks in Gaza and military operations in the occupied West Bank since October 7 result in increasingly widespread grave violations against Palestinian children.
Israel and the State of Palestine are a “situation of concern” in the United Nations Secretary General’s annual reporting on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) since 2006, when the first annual report was issued pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1612 (2005). Through this process, the United Nations has the mandate to monitor and verify six specific grave violations against children, to provide regular reports on grave violations to the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict (OSRSG-CAAC), and to engage all parties to address grave violations.
The six grave violations serve as the basis to gather information and report on violations affecting children, and are killing and maiming of children, recruitment or use of children as soldiers, sexual violence against children, abduction of children, attacks against schools or hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access for children. All parties to armed conflict must protect children and prevent the commission of grave violations against them.
CAAC Bulletins specific to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory periodically have been issued over the past several years to provide specific information on trends and the impact of conflict-related violence on children and to inform UN dialogue with parties to the conflict on measures to prevent and end grave violations of children’s rights, in line with recommendations included in the UN Secretary General’s Annual Reports on Children and Armed Conflict.
The information below covers the period between October 7–20, 2023.
Killing and maiming
At least 1,756 Palestinian children in Gaza have been killed in Israeli attacks since October 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, with more than 4,000 injured.
Case study: Shamlakh family
Israeli forces fired several missiles toward a residential building in the Sheikh Ajleen neighborhood, south of Gaza City, around 8:30 p.m. on October 8, killing 10 Palestinians, including three children: Yazan, 10, Abdulnaser, two, and Omar Ahmad Abdulnaser Shamlakh, five months, according to documentation collected by DCIP. The airstrike completely destroyed the building, which included four apartments housing three families.
27 Palestinian children have been killed in the occupied West Bank since October 7, according to documentation collected by DCIP, when the Israeli military began a full-scale bombardment on the Gaza Strip dubbed Operation Iron Swords.
Case study: Nour Shams refugee camp
Israeli forces operating a U.S.-sourced Apache attack helicopter fired a missile toward a group of Palestinian civilians, mostly children, around 1:30 p.m. on October 19 in Nour Shams refugee camp, near Tulkarem in the northern occupied West Bank, killing ten Palestinians, including four children, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. The four Palestinian children killed in the attack are Yousef Mohammad Omar Zaghdad, 11, Mujahed Mohammad Yousef Sa’aydeh, 15, Udai Ma’moun Khaled Abu Al-Heija, 15, and Sari Udai Ali Al-Sada, 15. A fifth child, 14-year-old Ali Abdullah Mohammad Said Khazna, was shot and killed by Israeli forces in the Thenaba neighborhood of Tulkarem around 5 p.m. During the same Israeli military incursion into Nour Shams refugee camp, Israeli forces shot and killed 15-year-old Taha Ibrahim Mohammad Mahmeed around 3:40 a.m. on October 19, according to documentation collected by DCIP.
Attacks on schools and hospitals
The World Health Organization (WHO) has documented 62 attacks on health care affecting 29 health care facilities (including 19 hospitals damaged) and 23 ambulances. Seven hospitals are no longer operational due to damage or evacuation order.
At least 193 educational facilities have been damaged, including at least 29 UNRWA schools, according to UN OCHA. Eight schools were used as emergency shelters for IDPs, and the Israeli airstrike on Al-Maghazi UNRWA school on October 17 killed eight Palestinians and injured 40 others.
Denial of humanitarian access
An estimated 1.4 million Palestinians in Gaza are displaced, according to UN OCHA.
Since October 11 at 2 p.m. Gaza has experienced a full electricity blackout after Israeli authorities cut the electricity and fuel supply on October 7 and the Gaza Power Plant depleted its reserves, according to UN OCHA. The World Health Organization delivered more than 10,000 liters of fuel to Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip, which will power the hospital’s backup generators for a few more days.
At least 30 percent of all housing units in the Gaza Strip have been damaged or completely destroyed since October 7, according to UN OCHA.
Two weeks after Israel cut off food, water, electricity and fuel from Gaza, international efforts resulted in approval for the entry of 20 aid trucks from the Rafah crossing on October 21. These humanitarian supplies target only the southern regions of the Gaza Strip and were distributed in UNRWA warehouses in Deir al-Balah and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society warehouses in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli authorities did not permit the humanitarian aid to be distributed anywhere in north Gaza, which is under an evacuation order by the Israeli military.
Prior to October 7, an average of 600 humanitarian aid trucks entered Gaza daily to provide relief to Palestinians. Zero humanitarian aid trucks entered Gaza between October 7 and 20.
“The State of Israel has no choice but to turn Gaza into a place that is temporarily or permanently impossible to live in,” reservist Major General Giora Eiland told Israeli media. “Creating a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a necessary means to achieve the goal. Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist.”
“Human animals must be treated as such. There will be no electricity and no water [in Gaza], there will only be destruction. You wanted hell, you will get hell,” said Major General Ghassan Alian, head of Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
Under international law, genocide is prohibited and constitutes the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group, in whole or in part. Genocide can result from killing or by creating conditions of life that are so unbearable it brings about the group’s destruction.
International humanitarian law prohibits indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks and requires all parties to an armed conflict to distinguish between military targets, civilians, and civilian objects. Deploying explosive weapons in densely-populated civilian areas constitutes indiscriminate attacks and carrying out direct attacks against civilians or civilian objects amounts to war crimes.
Israeli authorities have imposed a closure policy against the Gaza Strip since 2007 by strictly controlling and limiting the entry and exit of individuals; maintaining harsh restrictions on imports including food, construction materials, fuel, and other essential items; as well as prohibiting exports. Israel continues to maintain complete control over the Gaza Strip’s borders, airspace, and territorial waters.