Friday, February 13, 2009

Why Israel targets the kids

The direct and witnessed experiences of children in Palestine:



There is a famous photo of a young boy strapped to the hood of an Israeli jeep, to protect the soldiers from Palestinian stones, and hundreds of photos documenting Israeli soldiers' deliberate targeting of children in street attacks. A popular punishment for Palestinian kids who throw rocks at the occupying army is to smash their fingers to pieces. To break the hand of a stone-thrower, the soldiers reasoned, would stop them from throwing stones for at least a month. But few people really have a sense for the scale of state-condoned violence against Palestinian children.

The reason why Israel targets children is because the Palestinian children are active participants in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza's struggle against Israeli military occupation. During the first and second Intifada young kids threw stones, erected roadblocks, burned tires, marched in demos, became lookouts, wrote political slogans on walls, and confronted settlers and soldiers during raids on refugee camps and neighborhoods. Between December 1987 and December 1993, Palestinians under sixteen were 40 percent of an estimated 130,000 Palestinians seriously injured by Israeli soldiers. Essentially one of out every twenty Palestinian children. In order to crush the Intifada, it seemed, all Israel had to do was crush the spirit of the youth.

The IDF violates human rights and the 'rights of the child' as sketched out in the UN declaration, Rights of the Child. But in the few cases where the IDF was tried for their 'unauthorized' assaults, soldiers are punished lightly, and the charges are swept under the table in kangaroo courts. The IDF imposes curfews and other collective punishments on local Palestinan populations, but looks the other way when settlers set out on vigilante rampages against affected Palestinian communities. Thirty seven children were killed during the first five months of the First Intifada from the excessive use of tear gas in confined places. PTSD among children is common. This brutality is summarized in a pithy UNRWA brief, and added to a mound of UN briefs documenting the devastation of an entire people.


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