Despite the IDF’s killing of over 160 and the wounding of 17,000 unarmed Palestinian protesters, and despite the great international outcry this has caused, the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that the IDF’s rules of engagement are in line with “international parameters.”
GAZA CITY, PALESTINE — The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have killed at least 35 Palestinian children, around 30 in Gaza and five in the occupied West Bank, making 2018 a record-breaking year for child fatalities in Palestine with nearly four months still to go. The NGO Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP) determined the total number of casualties in a report published Monday.
Since the latest casualty figures were released, Israeli airstrikes in Gaza killed an 18-month-old along with her mother who was nine months pregnant, meaning casualty figures are only continuing to grow since the report’s publication.
According to DCIP, this year has seen the number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces exceed the number for any single year within the past decade, outside of large-scale Israeli military offensives. The previous record was set in 2016, when the IDF killed 32 Palestinian children, mostly in the occupied West Bank.
Unsurprisingly, those figures are small compared to the number of Palestinian children that have been killed in past IDF offensives targeting Gaza, such as the 2014 conflict that led to the deaths of an estimated 504 children, comprising nearly a quarter of the total Palestinian death toll.
Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP, said in a statement:
Israeli forces have operated with near complete impunity for so long that unlawful killings and other flagrant violations of international law have become the norm. Impunity combined with the rise in Israel’s use of live ammunition as a method of quelling demonstrators since 2014 means there is no legal mechanism that will halt this bloodshed.”
Indeed, as Eqtaish hints, Israel’s use of live ammunition as a means of addressing unrest is a key factor in this year’s record high death toll among Palestinian children, as most of this year’s child casualties were tallied in the Gaza Strip during protests along the Gaza-Israel border fence. The IDF response to the protest has also seen a high number of children hospitalized for injuries, with the UN recently reporting that, between March 30 and August 2, 1,467 children in Gaza were hospitalized, mostly for bullet wounds or tear gas inhalation.
In total, the protests in Gaza — part of the “Great Return March” — have seen the IDF kill over 164 Palestinians and injure over 17,000. All of the Gazans injured and killed during the protests were unarmed. Despite this, and despite the international outcry, the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that the IDF’s rules of engagement are in line with “international parameters.”
Beyond the killings, the Israeli state also keeps an astoundingly high number of Palestinian children prisoners. The only country in the world that automatically prosecutes children in military courts, Israel has prosecuted and arrested at least 8,000 Palestinian children since 2000 and detains between 500 to 700 Palestinian children annually. Three out of every four Palestinian child prisoners experience physical violence during arrest, transfer or interrogation.
However, no Israeli child has ever been processed through the military court system, underscoring the sad reality that Palestinian children are born targets of a cruel apartheid system.