DCI-Palestine works to protect the right of every child to a safe, healthy and secure childhood.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Israel in 1991, recognises the importance of childhood as a crucial time for growth and development. It also recognises childhood as a time of increased vulnerability.
By ratifying the Convention, the Israeli government committed to providing all children with a safe childhood, with the care, protection and opportunities that are needed to ensure that childhood is a time free from insecurity, violence or abuse.
Children denied opportunities to learn through a good education, denied access to healthcare, or denied stability when they see their homes demolished, are not experiencing a safe childhood. Those at risk of arrest, exploitation, or violence are being failed by the complex legal system that operates across the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The Israeli occupation creates difficulties for children seeking an education.
In the West Bank, education is compulsory for children until the age of 15. However, numerous military checkpoints impede the movement of all Palestinians, meaning that otherwise short journeys can take hours and result in missed classes or extracurricular activities. Attempting to pass through checkpoints can result in intimidation, assault or arbitrary arrest of children by Israeli soldiers.
Children living close to illegal Israeli settlements report harassment as they travel to and from school, and settlers have been known to attack schools with weapons while classes are taking place. This creates an environment of fear that is not conducive to a consistent education.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli military operations in 2008, 2012 and 2014 have blighted the lives of thousands of children.
Repeated military offensives on the Gaza Strip have caused high numbers of fatalities and injuries (hyperlink to F&I issues page> among children, as well as severely damaging the educational infrastructure across the Strip.
In the 2014 conflict alone, 232 schools were damaged and 29 schools were totally destroyed.
The impact of these military operations has been exacerbated by the ongoing economic blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has been in place since 2007. This blockade means that Israel prevents many essential materials, such as those related to construction and basic materials needed for learning, from entering Gaza. Fuel restrictions, and poverty caused by the blockade, also severely impedes students’ ability to get to school and concentrate on studying.
Since 1967, Israeli authorities have pursued a policy of demolishing Palestinian houses across East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Demolitions are undertaken by the Israeli military with the stated aim of deterring terrorism by punishing relatives of those charged with offences, as a security measure or to enforce building codes and regulations.
An estimated 24,000 Palestinian homes destroyed by Israeli authorities since 1967.
Demolishing houses in this way violates international law, and the practice has been condemned by the United Nations and numerous human rights organizations. DCI-Palestine joins other organizations in viewing these demolitions as a form of collective punishment of the Palestinian population, and a means of seizing Palestinian land to hand to Israeli settlers.
For families and their children, the impact of a house demolition is both financial and psychological. Long periods of instability follow a demolition. These periods affect children psychologically, through the destruction of normal family life, and practically, through the disruption of schooling. A child’s mental health is profoundly affected by the psychological state of their parents, which is severely tested following a demolition.
The military occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank has been having a severe impact on children’s health since 1967.
Fatalities and injuries are common. Psychological trauma as a result of violence resulting from encounters with the Israeli military in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is profound and can be long-lasting.
In Gaza, the health situation is severe. Many children have sustained injuries and disabilities during military offensives that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.
In the 2014 Israeli military operation on the Gaza Strip, nearly 1000 children were permanently disabled.
The facilities to enable disabled children to lead a full life are in scant supply, as the blockade severely restricts the Gaza economy. Thousands of children have lost parents or other family members, but do not have access to psychosocial treatment that may enable them to deal with this loss. Many children requiring medical treatment are unable to leave Gaza, as the borders controlled by Israeli and Egypt remain closed to many civilians.
The Israeli military occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and military operations in the Gaza Strip significantly increase the likelihood of a child sustaining injuries, while also impeding children’s access to healthcare.
DCI-Palestine works to change policies that restrict children’s access to a good education, a stable home or a healthy childhood.