Ref: 137/2012

 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012, marked the Universal Children’s Day,
devoted by the international community to promote, respect and protect
children’s rights globally, according to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child of 1989.  This occasion coincided
with an Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip that has been ongoing
since 14 November 2012.  In the context
of this offensive, 28 Palestinian children have been killed and 258 others have
been wounded.  The humanitarian
conditions have been deteriorating, including the psychological health of dozens
of thousands of children who have been experiencing unprecedented panic and
fear caused by indiscriminate military attacks that have targeted all areas of
the Gaza Strip, leading to forcible displacement of thousands of families. 

 

Since 14 November 2012, Israeli Occupation Forces have launched
hundreds of attacks against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza
Strip.  These attacks have targeted
hundreds of houses, governmental buildings and facilities, and agricultural,
industrial and marine facilities throughout the Gaza Strip.  Israeli forces declared that they attacked
more than 1,460 targets throughout the Gaza Strip, and claimed that they
targeted buildings and facilities belonging to Hamas and other Palestinian
organizations.  They further claimed that
they targeted in their aerial and marine attacks members of armed groups.  Investigations conducted by PCHR refute these
Israeli claims, as 136 Palestinians have been killed, including 91 civilians (66.9%
of the total number of deaths).  The
civilian victims include 28 children. 
Additionally, 941 Palestinians have been wounded, including 922
civilians, 258 one of them are children. 
Israeli airstrikes have completely or partially destroyed hundreds of
civilian facilities and houses, rendering hundreds of children and their
families homeless.  The number of
children in the Gaza Strip, whose total population is approximately 1.7
million, is estimated at 800,000. 

 

Many airstrikes have targeted families at homes, killing dozens of
civilians, including several children. 
On 19 November 2012, 8 civilians, including a woman and her 4 children,
were killed when an Israeli warplane bombarded a house belonging to the al-Dalu
family in Gaza City.  On the same day,
Israeli warplanes bombarded a house belonging to Fuad Khalil Ibrahim Hijazi,
46, in the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya. 
Hijazi and his 2 children, 4-year-old Mohammed and 2-year-old Suhaib,
were killed, and another 28 civilians, including 7 members of the Hijazi
family, were wounded.  Hijazi’s wife was
seriously wounded in the attack.  On 14
November 2012, Ranan Arafat, 5, was killed by an Israeli airstrike against her
family’s house in Gaza City.  On 15 November
2012, Israeli warplanes launched hundreds of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.  Two children were killed while inside their
houses in Beit Hanoun: Odai Jamal Nasser, 15; and Fares Ahmed al-Basyouni,
8.  Another 16 children were also
wounded.  On the same day, Haneen Khaled
Ahmed Tafesh, died of a previous shrapnel wound in the head, which she had
sustained when Israeli warplanes bombarded a plot near her family’s house in
Gaza City.  On 17 November 2012, Tamer
and Jumana Salama Ibrahim Eseifan, 4 and 2 respectively, were killed when
Israeli forces bombarded a plot near their family’s house.  Additionally, 18 children were wounded in the
northern Gaza Strip as a result of Israeli airstrikes.  On the same day, Tasneem Zuhair Mohammed
al-Nahhal, 10, was killed by an Israeli attack in the Beach camp in Gaza City,
while she was playing near her family’s house. A child, Eyad Abu Khousa, and
another 2 children, were killed in a similar attack in the central Gaza Strip.

 

In a very serious development, on Tuesday, 20 November 2012, Israeli
aircrafts dropped thousands of leaflets ordering residents of border areas in
the Gaza Strip to leave their homes and move towards other areas.  Many families were forced to leave their
homes and move towards UNRWA schools. 
UNRWA opened 13 schools (4 ones in the northern Gaza Strip, 8 ones in
Gaza City and one in al-Boreij refugee camp) to receive thousands of families
that left their homes.  The number of
people who have left their homes in the northern Gaza Strip and headed to UNRWA
school is estimated at 20,000, about half of them are children.  This morning, PCHR’s staff visited Gaza New
Preparatory School "A" and met with the principal and a number of
families that had left their homes in the northern Gaza Strip.  At least 350 families counting 1,800 individuals,
more than half of them are children, resorted to the school.  They were distributed into 34 classrooms,
60-70 persons in each.  They were forces
to sit on the ground having few covers for their children.

 

The already hard health conditions in the Gaza Strip have
deteriorated because of the chronic crisis of the shortages of medicines and
medical needs in all public health facilities throughout the Gaza Strip, and
hospitals have admitted at least 1,000 casualties since the beginning of the
offensive.  The psychological conditions
of hundreds of thousands of children have been at serious risks because of the
panic they have experiences as a result of indiscriminate shelling and
explosions of bombs and missiles. 
Israeli aerial and marine attacks have been focused on densely-populated
areas, while there are not shelters of whatsoever for the civilian
population.  Thousands of children suffer
from post-traumatic disorders because of daily attacks, especially at
night.  The Gaza Strip is one of the most
densely-populated areas in the world; its total area is 365 square kilometers
and the density of population in some areas amounts to 4,000 persons per
kilometer. 

 

The government in Gaza and UNRWA have been forced to close all
educational institutions in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the
offensive.  At least half a million
children have been deprived of having access to schools and kindergartens. Many
educational facilities have been also extensively damaged by Israeli attacks in
Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip. 

 

In light of the above, PCHR:

 

1- Calls
upon the international community to immediately act to sop Israeli crimes, and
renews the call to the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention
to fulfill their obligation under Article 1 of the Convention to ensure that it
is respected at all times, and their responsibilities under Article 146 to
pursue perpetrators of serious violations of the Convention, which are
determined in Article 147, which lists violations of the Convention amounting
to war crimes, to ensure protection for Palestinian civilians, especially
children;

2- Calls
upon the UN Secretary General and His Representative for Children and Armed
Conflicts to urgently act to stop Israeli attacks on Palestinian children in
the Gaza Strip, to ensure their non-recurrence and to investigate all crimes
committed against children in the offensive;

3- Warns
of deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip in light of
this continuous Israeli military escalation, threats to expand military
operations, and the continued tightened closure of the Gaza Strip; and

4- Calls
upon international humanitarian organizations working in the Gaza Strip to
provide necessary humanitarian needs to the families that were forced to leave
their homes, including covers, medicines, drinking water and other basic
services.