Volunteers rescue survivors from remains of Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza, after another round of bombings on Wednesday, November 1. (Photo: Quds News Network)
A disproportionately high number of Palestinian children have been killed by Israel since the beginning of its current war in Gaza and other occupied Palestinian territories. This has raised alarm globally with calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire growing louder.
Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP) states that at least 3,760 Palestinian children have been killed and over 7,695 have been injured in Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza since October 7.
Additionally, there are over 1,150 Palestinian children missing, feared to be buried under the rubble of buildings destroyed by Israel’s indiscriminate bombings in densely populated residential areas.
According to the UN, more than 40% of the over 9,000 Palestinians killed in the Israeli bombings in Gaza are children.
During her presentation in one of the meetings on the Palestinian situation in the UN, Catherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF, underlined that more than 420 Palestinian children are killed or wounded everyday due to Israel’s indiscriminate bombings in the Gaza strip.
A large number of infants have also been killed in those bombings with some dying within hours of their birth. Some of those infants have died due to the lack of incubator facilities as well because Israel has imposed a complete blockade of territory preventing shipments of fuel.
Israel continues to target residential areas, hospitals and schools sheltering hundreds of thousands of families displaced from earlier bombings.
Israel’s disregard for Palestinian children being killed is nothing exceptional. In fact, this conforms to the history of the Zionist state which has never cared about the Palestinian lives.
Killing and maiming children a regular affair for Israel
Israel has been killing Palestinian children, maiming them and killing children as young as 8 years old under detention ever since its occupation began on the Palestinian territories, if not since its creation.
During the first Nakba in 1948, when Israel ethnically cleansed hundreds of villages and towns in the historic Palestine, forcing over 700,000 Palestinians out of their homes and lands in the historic Palestine, hundreds of children were killed and thousands were made refugees.
Palestinians have been demanding inclusion of Israel in the UN secretary general’s annual “list of shame” which points out those state and non-state actors who have violated the rights of children. Israel has consistently been left off despite the fact that it has often been criticized by UN agencies and the secretary general himself for committing grave crimes against children in the occupied territories.
Even before Israel began bombing Gaza on October 7, Israel had killed over 31 Palestinian children by July this year. Last year in 2022, 78 children were killed and close to 1,000 maimed by Israeli forces.
Palestinian children are killed in Israeli occupation’s indiscriminate firings on vehicles, pedestrians, demonstrations, even on play fields and schools. Even inside their homes, children are victims of occupation violence, especially during a violent raid that might kill entire families in one go. This is aside from the hundreds of children in Gaza who have been killed by Israel’s repeated aerial bombings since 2005.
They have also been deprived of their childhood in more ways than one, under the brutal Israeli blockade which not only destroyed the economy of the densely populated narrow strip, forcing generations of children to have inadequate nutrition, education or recreation and subjecting them to a trauma which may last throughout their lives.
Israeli occupation forces regularly detain or arrest Palestinian children. Some of them were as young as 8 years old at the time of arrest.
In the first half of 2023, Israel had arrested 570 Palestinian children out of which at least 29 were below 12 years old and two as young as 10.
The number of detained Palestinian children has been increasing every year, with 865 children detained in the year 2022.
Save the Children has documented that the majority of Palestinian children arrested by the Israeli forces are beaten, held at gunpoint, stripped, kept in isolation and tortured. Most of these children are tried under military courts.
One of them, Ahmed Manasra, has spent eight years inside Israeli prison. He was arrested in 2015 when he was just 13 years old and despite suffering from mental health issues Israeli courts have repeatedly refused to release him.
Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights in occupied Palestinian territories submitted a report earlier this year, according to which “approximately 10,000 Palestinian children have experienced institutionalized ill-treatment during arrests, prosecutions, and sentencing and the consequent traumas on themselves and their families.”
The report also notes that, “arrest involves transferring children to interrogation facilities like dangerous criminals, blindfolded and hand tied in military jeeps.”