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The Impact on Children

Palestinian Children Killed by Israel

By Khalid Amayreh
From Al Jazeera
April 13, 2004

Photo of an injured Palestinian boy on a hospital bed with an expression of anguish on his face.
According to Al Jazeera, at least 545 Arab children have been killed since September 2000.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the strife between Israel and the Palestinians has been the killing and maiming of children.

The Israeli occupation army and paramilitary Jewish settlers have killed 545 Palestinian children and minors since the outbreak of the al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000.

Among these victims, 266 children were 14 or younger while the ages of the remaining 279 ranged from 15 to 18. Moreover, as many as 20,000 Palestinian children were injured, with nearly 1500 sustaining life-long disabilities.

The total number of Palestinians killed by Israel during the current Intifada is around 2700, the vast majority of them civilians.

Casualties

On the other hand, the number of Israelis killed by Palestinians during the same period is around 840 soldiers, settlers and civilians, including about 100 Israeli children and minors.

Nearly 2500 Israelis were injured, mostly suffering from light wounds and shock. Many of the Israeli victims died in bombings inside Israel.

In 2003, a total of 130 Palestinian children and minors were killed by Israeli troops and a further 22 have been killed in the first three months of this year.

One of the latest Palestinian children to be killed by the Israeli army was six-year-old Khalid Mahir Walwil from the Balata refugee camp near Nablus.

He was shot in the back as he turned away from the window on the second floor of his house.

Khalid had reportedly stayed at home that day, too frightened to go to school because Israeli soldiers were “operating” in the area.

Targeting denied

Despite the facts, Israeli officials continue to vehemently deny that their army targets Palestinian children.

Amira Dotan, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, told Aljazeera.net it was inconceivable that the Israeli army targeted Palestinian civilians, let alone children.

Photo of a Palestinian boy's body before his burial.
Khalid Walwil was the latest victim of Israel’s killings.

“We are a democratic state, our government would be toppled if it was proven that our defence forces had indulged in targeting Palestinian civilians and children,” she says.

“This sort of thing just doesn’t happen in Israel.”

When asked to explain the death of nearly 550 Palestinian children and minors by the Israeli army during the past 44 months, Dotan said the deaths were “accidental, collateral but not deliberate”.

However, when further pressed to explain how the Israeli army decided to drop one-tonne bombs on apartment buildings in Gaza and carry out devastating air strikes targeting markets and crowded streets, killing scores of children and women, Dotan invoked the mantra of terror.

“Yes, we knew there were children, but we had to kill the terrorists.”

Like other Israeli officials and spokespersons, Dotan believe that these actions were justified so as to protect Israeli lives.

“If we hadn’t killed those Palestinian children, then the terrorist would have killed three or four times as many Israelis.”

‘Macabre reasoning’

Palestinian officials, including jurists and human rights activists, strongly reject and condemn this “macabre reasoning”.

“Killing knowingly is killing deliberately and premeditatedly. It is a war crime which no amount of verbal juggling can extenuate,” said Hanna Issa, a prominent Palestinian legal expert and Director-General of the Palestinian Ministry of Justice.

“They know in advance that children are sleeping in the targeted building, none the less, they carry out the killing without batting an eyelash ... and then they shed the crocodile tears and claim that the killing was accidental or happened by mistake”

Hanna Issa,
director-general, Palestinian Justice Ministry

“They are killing with malice aforethought ... they know in advance that children are sleeping in the targeted building, none the less, they carry out the killing without batting an eyelash ... and then they shed the crocodile tears and claim that the killing was accidental or happened by mistake ...there is no such thing as killing deliberately by mistake.”

Stressing his point, Issa argued that Israel would never even contemplate bombing a building or a market or a crowded street if it knew that Israeli Jews were in the vicinity of the target.

He gave as an example an Israeli decision to call off an operation to assassinate Hamas founder and spiritual leader Shaikh Ahmad Yasin last year after it was found out that Israeli journalists were interviewing him.

“My question is would the Israeli army have cancelled the operation if the journalists had been Palestinians, not Israelis?”

Yasin was assassinated by Israel along with 10 other Palestinian civilians outside a Gaza mosque on 22 March.

Issa condemned all attacks on civilians, Israeli and Palestinian alike. “Murder is murder, period.”

However, he added: “I don’t believe that Israel stands on a higher moral ground just because Israeli soldiers are dressed in khaki and use F-16s, apache helicopters and flechette shells (deadly dart bombs) to kill and maim Palestinian children while Israeli civilians are killed by suicide bombers.”

‘Deliberate killings’

Since the outbreak of the Intifada, several human rights organisations have thoroughly investigated the circumstances of thousands of Palestinian civilian deaths, reaching the conclusion that the Israeli army “kills civilians knowingly and deliberately”.

One of these organisations is Physicians for Human Rights-USA, which investigated the number of Palestinian deaths and injuries in the fist months of the Intifada.

Photo of 3 small Palestinian children looking through a door.
A total of 266 children killed were 14 or younger.

It concluded that “the pattern of injuries seen in many victims did not reflect IDF use of firearms in life-threatening situations but rather indicated targeting solely for the purpose of wounding or killing”.

In some cases, the killing of Palestinian youths by Israel assumes a brazen and dastardly nature.

Nearly two years ago, Chris Hedges, a Western journalist covering events in Gaza reported how Israeli soldiers lured Palestinian kids to walk towards them for the purpose of hunting them down with their machineguns.

What is more shocking though is that virtually none of these killings has been investigated by the Israeli army or justice system, underscoring the striking ease with which the Israeli army kills Palestinians.

Twelve and up

Some Israeli soldiers have admitted that the army gives them “carte blanche” to shoot and kill Palestinian above the age of 12.

The noted Israeli award-wining journalist Amira Hass interviewed an Israeli sniper nearly two years ago in which the soldier described the commands he received from his superiors:

“The blood of their children is not more precious than that of our children. Let them stop killing our civilians, and we will stop killing theirs”

Abd al-Aziz al-Rantisi,
Hamas leader in Gaza (recently assassinated)

“Twelve and up, you are allowed to shoot. That’s what they tell us,” he said. “So,” responded the reporter, “according to the IDF, the appropriate minimum age group at which to shoot is 12.”

The soldier replied: “This is according to what the IDF says to its soldiers. I do not know if this is what the IDF says to the media.”

Many Palestinians are convinced that these atrocities fuel the fire of further attacks against Israel.

“The blood of their children is not more precious than that of our children,” said the new Hamas leader in Gaza, Abd al-Aziz al-Rantisi. “Let them stop killing our civilians, and we will stop killing theirs.”

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The History of Terrorism
Nonviolent and Military Resistance
Videos & Multimedia

British TV Documentary – Dispatches: The Killing Zone

VIDEO: Palestinians Document Settler Violence

VIDEO: West Bank attack filmed

Video – Gaza: A humanitarian implosion

Video: Old Palestinian Man Describes Being Shot

Video – The Easiest Targets: The Israeli Policy of Strip Searching Women and Children

Audio Interview – Psychology of Suicide Bombings

Video – Soldiers Explode a Portion of a Palestinian Home, Killing the Mother

Video – Soldiers Force a Palestinian to Play Violin at Roadblock

Related Articles

The Last Casualty?

Palestinian child deaths in conflict with Israel already nearly double that of 2005

Israeli officer: I was right to shoot 13-year-old child

Palestinian Children and the Second Intifada

Don’t shoot till you can see they’re over the age of 12

More Articles on Children

Israel 'using food and medicines as weapons'

Nobel Peace Laureate: Hope as Palestinians Use Nonviolence in their Struggle for Human Rights and Freedom

Israeli Strip Searches: A Partial List

68 women gave birth on checkpoints, 34 infants and 4 women died

Americans Tortured in Israeli Jails

More on Collective Punishment/Terrorism

Additional Resources

Poster – $top Funding Israeli Oppression of Palestinian Children

Flyer – $top Funding Israeli Oppression of Palestinian Children

Save the Children – Living Behind Barriers

Book – Stolen Youth: The Politics of Israel’s Detention of Palestinian Children

Chart – Attacks on Schools

Amnesty International – Killing the Future

Save the Children – The Education of Children At Risk

Booklet – Do Palestinians Teach Their Children to Hate?

The Gaza Strip: A humanitarian implosion

Back to a Routine of Torture – Torture and Ill-treatment of Palestinian Detainees during Arrest, Detention and Interrogation – September 2001 - April 2003

Amnesty International – Israeli Settlers Wage Campaign of Intimidation

Booklet – ‘No Exit’

Amnesty International – Under the Rubble

Organizations

Defence for Children International, Palestine

Remember These Children

Children of Shatila


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