A new report published by Defence of Children International-Palestine brings to light the devastating impact on Palestinian children of growing up near increasingly violent Israeli settlements and Israeli military outposts.
The report, Growing Up Between Israeli Settlements and Soldiers, details the experiences of children and their families living in villages and towns hemmed in by expanding and often violent settler communities. It finds that attacks on schools, assaults on individual homes and the physical abuse of children are occurring throughout the West Bank as a result of close proximity to settlements and military outposts.
“Settler and military violence against Palestinians in the West Bank is condoned by the state of Israel because it serves to further distress and control the occupied population,” said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine. “Unfortunately children are consistently the victims of this persistent and unrestricted violence.”
Since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, it has established some 125 Jewish-only settlements that house 515,000 Israelis. The settlements are woven throughout the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, often dividing the cities, villages and refugee camps of the 2.65 million Palestinians who live there. According to international law, Israel’s settlements in the West Bank are illegal. Israel, however, claims religious and historical rights to the territory.
Israel recently approved plans to build 1,500 new settlement units in the West Bank, following the failure of U.S.-brokered peace talks. In 2013, Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, increased by 130 percent compared with 2012, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Israel’s continued settlement expansion comes at a time when Israeli officials are considering unilateral action to annex areas in the occupied West Bank under full Israeli control, according to media reports.
Stationed throughout the West Bank, Israeli soldiers, police and private security firms protect settler populations at the expense of Palestinian civilians. Unlike Israeli civilians living across the Green Line, Israel’s pre-1967 boundary with the West Bank, many settlers carry government-issued arms.
In this hyper-militarized environment, disproportionate physical and psychological violence is inflicted on Palestinian children.
See related link: 250 Children Currently Imprisoned by Israel