Children and the Palestine-Israel conflict: Nine things to know

Children who were born into the decades-old conflict between Palestine and Israel are paying a steep price.

Photo by: Getty Images
Photo by: Getty Images

Palestinian boys stand behind mock jail bars during a rally calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 20, 2014.

1. It’s not just adults who are losing their lives to the conflict: Since September 29, 2000, 134 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 2,154 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis.

2. Israel has a military court for Palestinian children: Israel established the world’s first and only juvenile military court in operation in the world in September 2009. By the end of August 2016, 319 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli prisons as security detainees and prisoners, including 10 administrative detainees, according to rights organisation B’Tselem.

3. Children can be sentenced up to 10 years of jail time:

For children aged 12-13, a maximum six-month sentence was established, for those aged 14-15 the sentence reaches up to one year.

But the law says that if the offence involves throwing stones at persons or property with the intent to harm, it carries a maximum penalty of as much as 10 years of jail time. This law does not apply to Israeli children.

4. Hundreds of Palestinian children are facing cruel punishment in detention: According to Defense for Children International, 429 West Bank children were detained between 2012 and 2015, and endured some form of physical violence following arrest.

5. Many children are not provided with basic rights: In only three percent of all cases, Palestinian children had their parents present during interrogation or access to legal counsel. In 84 percent of the cases, children were not informed of their rights.

6. Almost a million Palestinian children have been affected by the blockade of Gaza: According to Unicef, one in every four children in Gaza needs protection and psychosocial support. Overall, 911,000 Palestinian children are still affected by the prolonged conflict and occupation. Chronic power deficits disrupt basic services, including education, health, nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene.

7. Israeli children are also suffering: SOS, a children's charity, says that 40 per cent of Israeli children live in poverty due to conflict in the region. 

8. But there’s a significant poverty gap between Jewish and non-Jewish children:  According to a 2015 report by the Israel National Council for the Child, a fifth of Jewish children lived beneath the poverty line. However, two-thirds of non-Jewish children are living in poverty.

9. Israel’s discriminatory education policies don’t help: While Israel covers 90 to 100 percent of Jewish school budgets, only 29 percent of the Palestinian schools for children are covered. Those students are citizens as well.