Dear Partners and Friends,
It gives me great pleasure to present the 2009 Annual Report for Defence for Children International - Palestine Section (DCI/PS). Like every year, 2009 was full of achievements and inspirations as well as challenges in the field of children's rights. Part of what made 2009 special, however, was that it marked the 30th anniversary of DCI as a movement, as well as the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child - a foundation of children's legal and human rights that DCI has honored and attempted to enrich through our work since the very beginning. To celebrate, reflect, and plan ahead, DCI/International Secretariat dedicated its 30th anniversary symposium to the topic of "Child Participation and Juvenile Justice," held in Geneva.
Here in Palestine, we also convened for an important national event, the Seventh National Conference of Palestinian Children, titled "Dignity, Freedom, and Respect." Over 900 people attended a diverse series of events: workshops, speeches, paper presentations, signing petitions (alongside Palestinian legislative council members) about child law modifications, and discussing other important initiatives in the field of child rights.
In short, it has been a year for reflection on the state of children's rights all over the world, but also - urgently - in Palestine. Despite the continual progress we can see in this field, and which we've worked to enact, a great deal remains to be done. Children's rights are constantly threatened under Israeli occupation: the rates of killed, injured, and imprisoned children remain high, as does the number of children tortured in detention and interrogation centers; indeed, whether in or out of prison, the rights of children in conflict of the law are often denied, withheld, or violated altogether. And under both the Israeli government and the PA, children's rights face many daily threats, both institutional and intimate: domestic violence, violence in schools, corporal punishment, conflicts with the law, and so on.
As for one of the most grossly shameful injustices currently at work in Palestine, the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip in late 2008/early 2009 - as well as the paralysis of its aftermath, the prohibition of even the most basic resources and opportunities for regeneration - continue to stifle the lives of children. About 1400 Palestinians were killed in "Operation Cast Lead," most of them civilians; scores of children were killed, wounded, and wrongfully put in jeopardy. Over a year later, the health, education, safety, and overall wellbeing of Gazan children remain in a state of constant violation.