Throughout the second Intifada, beginning in September 2000, Israel has engaged in gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Israeli military activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT ) has been excessive and disproportionate. Routinely employing sophisticated military weaponry, including missiles and F16 war planes, Israeli forces have acted with insufficient, or no, regard for the lives of civilian residents of the OPT resulting in particularl y high numbers of civilian casualties.
During this period Palestinian children have suffered countless violations of their rights, including violations of the right to life. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2006 there were an estimated 2.1 million children living in the OPT. These children constitute over half (52.3%) of the Palestinian population in the OPT.(1) Their right to life, survival and development is the most fundamental of all human rights of the child.(2) In spite of this, Israel has repeatedly and arbitrarily deprived Palestinian children of the right to life, in violation of article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to which it is a State Party.
In 2006, the Israeli military's lack of respect for Palestinian human rights and for the guidelines that seek to protect civilians in periods of armed conflict (as embodied in international humanitarian law) continued. Throughout the year, the Israeli military employed violent, excessive and disproporti onate force against Palestinian civilians. This was evident in the bombardment of civilian houses and infrastructure; the extrajudicial killing of Palestinian activists resulting in the killing of civilian by-standers; and the opening of random gunfire leading to the deaths of children either whilst inside their homes or playing near them. Despite Israel's withdrawal of troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the territory remains occupied. As a result Palestinian civilians, including children, were exposed to numerous violations of international humanitarian law in 2006. Two massive Israeli military offensives in the Gaza Strip during 2006 resulted in high civilian casualties and wide-scale targeting of civilian infrastructure.
In total, Israeli military forces killed 124 Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during 2006. This figure brings the number of child deaths caused by military or settler violence during the second Intifada to 852. The number of Palestinian children killed in 2006 is more than double those killed in 2005, when a total of 52 children were killed. Eighty-five percent (85%) of child fatalities in 2006 occurred in the Gaza Strip.
(1) Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (20 November 2006): "On the Occasion of 'International Child Day"
(2) In accordance with definition set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a "child" is anyone under 18 years of age.