The Palestinian Ministry of Information detailed in a report released a couple of days ago to mark the International Day for Protection of Children the violations committed by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and the Jewish settlers against the Palestinian children since 28th September 2000.
The Ministry said in a report issued by the Department of Children’s Information that “since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada until the end of April 2017, more than 3,000 children were killed, more than 13,000 children were injured, and more than 12,000 were arrested by the IOF, adding that 300 Palestinian children are still held in Israeli jails.
It revealed that 95% of the detained children are tortured and beaten during their detention, mostly after midnight. The Israeli soldiers blindfold them and tie their hands before extracting confessions from them under duress in the absence of lawyers or family members during interrogation.
The report pointed out that the IOF annually arrests about 700 Palestinian children, but since the beginning of October 2015, the IOF escalated the arrest of children and arrested since that period until the beginning of November 2016 around 2,000 children on charges of disturbing the public order by throwing stones at the IOF and settlers.
Schoolchildren are also exposed to various abuses at the military checkpoints erected at the entrances to towns, villages and refugee camps in the occupied West Bank.
The report noted that most Palestinian children live in poverty due to the deteriorating economic situation and the ongoing blockade especially in the Gaza Strip. Many of them were forced to leave their schools and move to the labor market.
According to a report by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the percentage of the Palestinian children aging between 10-17 years old who enrolled in the labor market in 2013 was nearly 4.1%.
The Palestinian Ministry of Labor’s latest report revealed that there are 102,000 Palestinian children under the age of 18 in the labor market, while in 2011 there were 65,000 of them.
Labor in the Jordan Valley settlements
The Ministry of Information said that according to statistics by Ma’an Center, 10,000-20,000 Palestinian workers are employed in agricultural settlements in the Jordan Valley, 5.5% of whom are children aging between 13-16 years old and working for 7 to 8 hours a day with a wage equal to one-third of the Israeli worker’s minimum wage.
The poor conditions the children face in their schools are the main cause of this phenomenon. Schools in the Jordan Valley suffer from a severe lack of funding and adequate facilities. The schools are often far from the children’s houses so they choose to leave their schools with no alternative available but to work.
Most children work informally and receive no benefits amid generally unsafe working conditions.
The Ministry affirmed that the Israeli policies have a major role in establishing a dangerous economic situation in the Jordan Valley and forcing the Palestinian children to drop out of schools, give up their dreams and enter the labor market prematurely for low wages in return. Such humiliating policies adversely affect the development of children.
The Ministry’s report underlined that 85% of the Jerusalemite children live below the poverty line. According to the Association of Civil Rights, the population of East Jerusalem is 371,844, 79% of whom live below the poverty line as a result of the Israeli policies and measures pursued against them.
As for education in East Jerusalem, there is an estimated shortage of 1,000 classrooms in the city.
The total number of children in East Jerusalem between the ages of 6 and 18 reached 88,845 in 2012 including 86,018 children who enrolled in educational institutions, according to the data of the East Jerusalem Education Directorate, and there is a 40% dropout rate in the 12th grade in high schools.
East Jerusalem suffers from the lack of maternity and children centers with only 4 centers available compared to West Jerusalem which has 25 centers for child care.