International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian Children

Palestinian Children’s Day comes this year with the children of Palestine experiencing unprecedented aggression at the hands of Israeli forces.

Since October 7, 2023, Israeli forces have been carrying out a genocidal war against the people of the Gaza Strip, which has claimed the lives of so far more than 32,975 people, including more than 13,800 children, and has wounded more than 75,577 people, while more than 8,100 people, including children and women, are still missing under the rubble and on the roads.

Israeli forces and settlers have killed 114 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since October 7, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International – Palestine.

DCIP has launched a campaign, “Marking Palestinian Children’s Day as International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian Child,” with the aim of highlighting the crimes committed by Israeli forces against them, in partnership with Palestine Network for Children’s Rights (PNCR), the Ministry of Social Development, the Independent Commission for Human Rights, and the Palestinian Bar Association.

The ongoing Israeli aggression against Palestinian children is unprecedented, and has affected the entire child rights system, particularly basic rights such as the right to life, survival, and development. More than 13,800 children have been killed in the Gaza Strip since October 7, and Palestinian children in Gaza who have survived so far have been deprived of their rights to health, water, food, medicine, and a clean environment.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned, in a previous statement, that the Gaza Strip is becoming a “graveyard for children.”

The Israeli military has systematically blocked humanitarian aid from entering Gaza, prompting the United Nations to warn of a “catastrophic” food situation for half of Gaza’s population, and of an “imminent” famine, which has so far claimed the lives of 34 people, including 31 children, though the true death toll is feared to be much higher.

“People in Gaza are starving to death right now. The speed at which this man-made hunger and malnutrition crisis has ripped through Gaza is terrifying,” said Cindy McCain, Executive Director of the World Food Programme.

Food security has become a pressing concern, with Human Rights Watch accusing the Israeli authorities of using hunger as a means of war.

The Israeli military has also deprived children of Gaza of their right to maintain and remain with their families. UNICEF estimates that at least 17,000 children in the Gaza Strip are unaccompanied, orphaned, or separated. Each one, a heartbreaking story of loss and grief.

Israeli forces have also deprived Palestinian children in Gaza of their right to education. At least 111 schools have been severely damaged in Gaza, in addition to more than 40 schools that were completely destroyed, while around 620,000 students are out of school since October, according to the Ministry of Education. At least 133 schools are being used as shelters, in addition to the fact that most of the students suffer from psychological trauma.

Israeli forces have deprived children in Gaza of their right to safe shelter, by destroying 70 percent of homes in the Gaza Strip, according to Bala Krishnan Rajagopal, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, while forcing more than 85 percent of its population to move south, causing an increasingly dire humanitarian crisis, including severe shortages of food, water and medicine.

Various prisoners’ organizations reported that the Israeli forces have arrested more than 7,895 Palestinians from the West Bank, including at least 500 children, since October 7, while Israeli forces carry out the crime of enforced disappearance against Palestinian detainees from Gaza, including women and children, and refuse to disclose any clear information about them.

Israel forces have subjected Palestinian detainees to severe torture, including brutal and retaliatory beatings, dog attacks, stress positions for long hours, completely stripped of their clothes, sexual harassment, and deprivation of food and access to the bathroom, according to testimonies collected by human rights organizations.

Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank are subject to arrest, trial and imprisonment under the Israeli military court system, which deprives them of their basic rights.

DCIP and its partners call for an immediate halt to the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip in order to save the lives of civilians, especially children, and to oblige the occupying state to provide protection for children, enable them to enjoy their rights under international law, and provide them with medical and psychological treatment.

DCIP and its partners hold Israel, the occupying state, fully responsible for its crimes against civilians, namely children, and stress that it must be held accountable for all these crimes.

Furthermore, DCIP and its partners stress the need for the international community to put pressure on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian land, in accordance with international resolutions and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

(Source: DCIP)