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An Israeli soldier throws a tear gas canister at Palestinian demonstrators during a protest against Jewish settlements, in al-Mughayyir village near Ramallah Image Credit: AFP

A global NGO, the Defence for Children International (DCI) submitted a joint report to UN investigators last month on Israeli crimes committed against Palestinians, specifically children.

The organisation is an independent non-governmental organisation, which has been promoting and protecting children’s rights on a global, regional, national and local level for more than 35 years.

It was set up during the International Year of the Child ‘to ensure ongoing, practical, systematic and concerted international and national action specially directed towards promoting and protecting the rights of the child, as articulated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.’

The report was a collaborative effort with the Human Rights and Gender Justice Law Clinic (HRGJ) at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, who spent most of 2018 tracking down abuses by Israel against Palestinian children. What they discovered was Israeli forces’ unlawful killing of Palestinian child protesters, and serious violations of international law by Israeli forces.

Israeli forces target children

A total of 56 Palestinian children were targeted and killed by Israeli forces and colonists in the illegally occupied territories during 2018, and another 45 children killed in the Gaza Strip since March 30, 2018, until the drafting of the report.

DCI was able to confirm the children did not present any imminent, mortal threat or threat of serious injury when killed by Israeli forces. The report clearly concluded that ‘Israeli forces and officials are responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international law for the killing of Palestinian child protesters in Gaza.’

“Israeli armed forces have regularly been implicated in widespread and systematic human rights violations against Palestinian children, yet systemic impunity is the norm,” said Brad Parker, Senior Adviser, Policy and Advocacy at DCIP.

The UN “must pursue accountability by analysing alleged violations of international criminal law falling within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and naming perpetrators.”

Israeli occupation forces have been systematically murdering and maiming the innocent in Palestine for over six decades now.

Who can forget the tragic image of a father shielding his 8-year-old son, as Israeli forces callously shot him dead while the cameras were running? Or the image of Rachel Corrie, an American from Seattle who defiantly stood in the face of Israeli bulldozers out gorging for more land, only to be violently crushed to death by the Caterpillar’s blades. Or the images of an 8-year-old girl shot in the head by an Israeli sniper out for target practice. Or more recently, of 8-year-old and 10-year-old children who were slaughtered as they were playing outside their homes. Or four Palestinian children playing by the sea and mercilessly shot down by Israeli aircraft?

All this at the hands of Benjamin Netanyahu who like his predecessor Ariel Sharon is a man with war crimes coursing through his soul, and with no obvious intention towards peace.

Along with the thousands of illegal colonists he has encouraged to move in on land illegally obtained, Netanyahu is calculatedly following the game plan set by his mentor Ariel Sharon, a former Israeli prime minister who once said in a recorded interview many years back: “I don’t know something called International Principles. The Palestinian woman and child are more dangerous than the man because the Palestinian child’s existence infers that generations will go on, but the man causes limited danger.

I vow that if I was just an Israeli civilian and I met a Palestinian I would burn him and I would make him suffer before killing him. With one hit I’ve killed 750 Palestinians in Rafah in 1956.” From the killing fields of Sabra and Shatilla back in the eighties, to the documented cases of ethnic cleansing in Jericho, in Jenin, in Bethlehem, and a host of towns and villages across Palestine the cries for justice ring hollow in the minds of Netanyahu and his henchmen, as they continue to remind the world of the first Holocaust and demand collective guilt. And their recent targets have been children; children whose only crime was that they were Palestinians living on Palestinian lands.

Despite repeated calls by the UN Human Rights Committee and others, Israel continues to ignore calls for investigations into crimes committed by the Israelis against Palestinians.

It has remained mysteriously silent to the massacres of the residents of Sabra and Shatilla and the butchery of civilians in Jenin crafted by Ariel Sharon, the Israeli premier at the time, followed by the public display of pre-designed genocide of the women and children of Gaza by Sharon’s protege, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The report never made it to the front pages of leading western media outlets and not surprisingly so. But for how long can the world’s conscience remain restrained and muted at the unlawful and appalling murder of innocent children?

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena