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Palestinian Child Rights Coalition delegation presents information to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

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A four member delegation representing the Palestinian Child Rights Coalition traveled to Geneva this week to meet with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and presented evidence regarding Israel's systematic violations of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The meeting was convened by the Committee in preparation for its formal review of the State of Israel's report on compliance with the CRC, a report that was submitted seven years late and failed to address its practices towards Palestinian children of the occupied territories. Members of the delegation include representatives of DCI/PS, Early Childhood Resource Center and an 11 year old Palestinian girl from Jenin refugee camp.
In response to the official Israeli report, an alternative report was prepared by a team of researchers spearheaded by DCI/PS, and endorsed by the Palestinian Child Rights Coalition. The report was submitted to the Committee in March 2002 and examines violations of rights enshrined in the Convention, such as the right to life, health, education, an adequate standard of living, and to be free from torture and discrimination.

Yesterday, the delegation presented the findings of the report to the Committee, stressing the gross child rights violations to which Palestinian children are repeatedly subjected, particularly violations of the right to life and the arrest, imprisonment and torture of Palestinian child political prisoners. The presentation also debunked a variety of popular myths regarding the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Palestinian children, showing rather that Palestinian children have been deliberately targeted by the Israeli military. The eleven year old member of the delegation detailed her experiences inside the Jenin Refugee Camp during the Israeli military's brutal attack on the camp in early April. Throughout the presentation, the delegation stressed to the Committee that the 35 year long Israeli occupation is the root cause of systematic and gross child rights violations.

The CRC entered into force in Israel on 2 November 1991. Article 44 of the Convention requires States Parties to submit a report detailing measures adopted by the State to ensure the provisions of the Convention. This report is due two years after the entry into force of the Convention: for Israel, the report was due by 2 November 1993. When Israel finally submitted the report at the end of 2000, issues concerning Palestinian children were completely absent, though the Convention makes absolutely clear that the provisions of the CRC are applicable to all children who reside in areas under the control of the State (article 2). Thus, not only is the State of Israel engaged in gross and systematic violations of children's rights, it is attempting to absolve itself of any and all responsibility by failing to address these violations in its State Party report to the Committee.

In contrast to the spirit and content of the CRC, the findings of the alternative report make absolutely clear that Palestinian children have been the continual target of Israeli aggression and violence over the last decade.

From 1990-2001, 492 Palestinian children (under the age of 18) were killed as a direct result of actions by Israeli soldiers, settlers or undercover units.

Palestinian children accounted for more than 20% of total deaths for every year since 1990. Between 1997-1999, the percentage of child deaths reached more than 50% of total Palestinian deaths.

Over 40% of Palestinian child deaths over the last 10 years occurred in the years 2000 and 2001.

Over the two years 2000 and 2001, DCI/PS field research recorded 203 deaths of children killed as a result of the Israeli occupation. Two characteristics of the Israeli violence stand out in a comparison of child deaths and injuries between 2000 and 2001. Israeli forces killed significantly younger children in 2001 than in comparison with the year 2000 and they did so with a much higher level of force. The percentage of Palestinian children killed under the age of thirteen doubled from the year 2000 to the year 2001. More than 1/3 of children killed in the year 2001 were under the age of 12.

The level of force used in killing these children has also increased. In the year 2001, 32% of children were killed by injuries to the head, an 11% drop in comparison with the year 2000. This apparent drop however, was compensated by the large increase in the number of children who received multiple deadly wounds to more than one bodily location (33.33% of child deaths).

Violations such as these, and scores of others, have become part and parcel of daily life for Palestinian children and have increased in volume since the intensified military attacks on Palestinian communities began on 29 March 2002. From 29 March to 8 May alone, 42 Palestinian children were killed as a direct result of Israeli military presence in the occupied territories. As the Palestinian delegation presented its findings to the Committee, thousands of Palestinian children remained under curfew, forbidden from leaving their homes or risk being shot by Israeli soldiers positioned throughout the occupied territories.