During international armed conflicts, including occupations by military forces, children are afforded protection under international humanitarian law. Children are also granted protection under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as persons who are especially vulnerable during war time. However, the state of Israel has consistently failed in its legal obligation to offer protection towards the children of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Since the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have killed more than 860 children in the OPT, the majority of them in the Gaza Strip.
In response to these IOF killings of children, and IOF consistent use of excessive lethal force against Palestinian children, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights is launching “Blood on Their Hands” — a major investigative report on child killings perpetrated by the IOF in the Gaza Strip.IOF killings of children in the Gaza Strip from June 2007 through June 2008. During this period, IOF killed 68 children in the Gaza Strip. (For the purpose of this reports, PCHR defines a child as a boy or girl younger than the age of 18 who is not taking part in hostilities.) The report provides data, analysis and testimonies on the killings of these children, including detailed testimonies from eye-witnesses and bereaved families, which highlight the horrific nature of these IOF child killings. The report also examines the psychological impact of child deaths on other children in the Gaza Strip, especially those children who have witnessed IOF killings. Although it focuses on the Gaza Strip, the report also refers to child killings by IOF in the West Bank, where 12 children were killed by IOF during the reporting period.
The violent deaths of all 80 children are the direct result of IOF policy of targeting unarmed civilians in the OPT, and especially the Gaza Strip, as a form of collective punishment against Palestinian civilians. The report investigates the context of child killings in the Gaza Strip, providing detailed investigations into IOF use of disproportionate and excessive lethal force in order to deliberately target children. The report also exposes IOF methods of killing children, and the consistent failure of the State of Israel to investigate IOF killings of Palestinian children in the OPT, or to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Blood on Their Hands exposes” the extent of IOF child killings, and makes urgent recommendations for the IOF to respect the human rights of all Palestinian children in the OPT, as well as demanding that the international community intervene immediately and effectively in order to ensure that children’s human rights are respected and upheld.
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