From the beginning of the Second Intifada, in September 2000, until 30 June 2008, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) killed almost five thousand Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian territory (OPT)1. The majority of victims were civilians, and 859 of them were children.2 In addition, hundreds of thousands of other Palestinian men, women and children have been injured during IOF military operations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, some of them for life.
During international armed conflicts, including occupations by military forces, children are afforded protection under International Humanitarian Law (IHL), including the (1949) Fourth Geneva Convention, relative to the protection of civilian persons in time of war.
Children are also granted protection under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), as persons who are especially vulnerable during war time. The State of Israel has, however, consistently failed in its legal obligation to offer protection towards the children of Palestine.
IOF have continued to use disproportionate and excessive force across the OPT, without regard for civilian life, including the lives of children.
In the Gaza Strip, the civilian population has been continually subjected to intensive IOF military operations that have included mass bombardments in and around densely populated residential areas, as well as hundreds of extrajudicial execution operations.3 Since September 2000, IOF have killed 2,051 civilians in the Gaza Strip, including 548 children. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has monitored and investigated IOF killings of Palestinian children since the Centre was established in 1995. This report has been written in response to the rising numbers of children who have been killed by IOF since the beginning of the Second Intifada, especially in the Gaza Strip.
Its aim is to investigate, and expose, how and why increasing numbers of Palestinian children have been killed by IOF in the Gaza Strip. For the purposes of this report, PCHR defines a child as a boy or girl under the age of eighteen who is taking no part in hositilities.
The report begins by examining the overall pattern of IOF killings of children in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the Second Intifada. It then focuses on child killings by the IOF in the Gaza Strip from 30 June 2007 - 30 June 2008. During this period, sixty eight Palestinian children were killed by IOF in the Gaza Strip.
Blood on Their Hands provides data, analysis and testimonies on the deaths of these children, including detailed testimonies from eye-witnesses and bereaved families. The report also examines the psychological impact of child deaths on other children in the Gaza Strip, especially those children who witness IOF killings. Although it focuses on the Gaza Strip, this report also refers to child killings by IOF in the West Bank, where twelve children were killed by IOF between June 2007-June 2008.
Blood on Their Hands exposes why increasing numbers of children have been killed by IOF in the Gaza Strip, and makes urgent recommendations for the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) to respect the human rights of all Palestinian children in the OPT - as well as demanding that the international community intervenes immediately and effectively in order to ensure these human rights are respected and upheld.