UN Special Rapporteur: Palestinian Children Suffer From Long Israeli Occupation

(RTTNews) – Prolonged Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories had caused a tremendous burden on civilians, and had an even heavier impact on children, “whose development is deformed by pervasive deprivations affecting health, education and overall security,” a top U.N. official told the United Nations Third Committee on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural issues.

Richard Falk, the Human Right’s Council’s Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967, said on Thursday, when the Committee met to continue its discussion of the promotion and protection of human rights, that evidence suggested a pattern of increasing abuse through specific policies that systematically violated the rights of children under international humanitarian law.

Further, experts on child development agreed that children suffered more from violations than adults and “the protection of their rights should be of urgent concern to the international community.”

Presenting his annual report, Falk said that Israel had again this year refused to cooperate with his mandate and allow him access to the Territories. But, he noted that many children arrested for stone-throwing were subject to Israeli military law. That process, as documented by United Nations agencies, included arrests in the middle of the night, removal of the child from the parents for questioning and abundant anecdotal evidence of abusive treatment in detention.

The report notes an alarming increase in settler violence in 2011, with 178 documented injuries to Palestinians during the first half of this year compared to 176 for all of 2010 and with almost daily accounts of vandalism against Palestinian agricultural land and villages.

A further dimension to those activities was frequent settler harassment of Palestinian children on their way to school, which had reportedly forced many children and their families to discontinue education.

“Overall, the failure to prevent and punish settler violence remains a serious and on-going violation of Israel’s most fundamental obligation under international humanitarian law to protect a civilian population living under occupation,” he said.

He recommended that the Israeli government immediately adopt the non-governmental organization B’Tselem’s guidelines to protect Palestinian children who were arrested or detained, as a minimum basis for compliance with international humanitarian law. Further, Israel also needed to develop and implement appropriate detention and imprisonment policies for all Palestinians.

The Special Rapporteur also recommended that Israel allow entry into Gaza urgently needed materials to repair water and electricity infrastructure and an immediate lifting of the unlawful blockade of the region. He recommended that a request be made to the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the legal status of prolonged occupation.

During the question-and-answer session following his presentation, Falk expressed support for Palestine’s recent request to be admitted as a Member State of the United Nations.

The Committee also heard from Christof Heyns, the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions. He urged that the growing practice of targeted killings, particularly through use of unmanned drones, should be subjected to a comprehensive overview by the international community.

The U.S. delegate told the session that her country fully acknowledged there was disagreement on the use of force against al-Qaeda outside of “hot” battlefields, and that the United States is subject to the rules of international law that must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

(www.rttnews.com / 21.10.2011)

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