Child Rights Connect joins the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and UN independent experts in strongly condemning the grave violations of children’s rights in the context of armed conflict in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
The escalation in violence between de-facto authorities and armed groups in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel over the past two weeks has had a devastating impact on Israeli and Palestinian children. Over one thousand children have been killed and tens of thousands injured or suffering the grave effects of Israel’s attacks and siege on Gaza. International humanitarian law (IHL) sets out clear rules that seek to limit the human suffering caused by armed conflict and protect children from harm.
In Gaza, over one thousand Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli attacks, and entire multigenerational families have been wiped out. Additional children are unaccounted for and missing under the rubble of destroyed buildings, indicating that the true death toll is much higher. Child Rights Connect is deeply distressed by the impact on children of airstrikes on Gaza, the bombing of the Al-Ahli hospital and the siege imposed by Israel, a collective punishment against the entire people in Gaza that constitutes a war crime. Almost half of the 2.3 million people that live in Gaza are children. Children must have access to essential supplies, including food, water and medicines. In accordance with their IHL obligations all parties must allow and facilitate rapid passage of humanitarian relief to civilians.
The deliberate killing and inhumane treatment of civilians and the taking of hostages is prohibited by IHL at all times. Child Rights Connect is deeply distressed by reports of Hamas killing Israeli children and taking some as hostages during the attacks on 7 October. These acts constitute war crimes and we call for the immediate and safe release of all those held hostage. Whilst held in captivity, hostages must be treated humanely and must not be threatened or subjected to any form of abuse. Those responsible for the targeting of children and taking of hostages must be held criminally accountable.
The Government of Israel and de-facto authorities and armed groups in the occupied Palestinian territory are obliged by IHL and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to ensure that all measures are taken to protect children from the harmful impact of the fighting. The number of deaths and injuries – and the scale of the damage from attacks – give rise to concerns that these legally binding rules are not being respected and that war crimes are being committed.
List of signatories of the statement as of 31 October 2023:
- Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion
This statement was developed in consultation with the Child Rights Connect member-led Working Group on children and armed conflict. https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/documents/hrbodies/crc/statements/2023-10-12-stm-israel-palestine.pdf  These rules are binding on all parties and apply to all armed conflicts without exception. Violations of these rules by one party to the conflict do not in any way reduce the obligations of the other.  All attacks must distinguish between military targets, and civilians and civilian objects. Civilians and civilian objects, including homes, shops, schools, and hospitals may never be the target of an attack. Each and every attack must be proportionate to the military advantage anticipated. An attack is disproportionate if it is expected to cause loss of civilian life that would be excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage. Precautions must be taken by both sides to protect civilians from the impact of attacks including issuing effective warnings before an attack that allow civilians enough time to flee to a place of safety and ensuring that military supplies are kept away from civilian areas.