Palestinian Children Under Occupation - by Stephen Lendman
The Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations is a Beirut, Lebanon-based organization engaged in "strategic and futuristic studies on the Arab and Muslim worlds, (emphasizing) the Palestinian issue." In July 2010, it published the latest in its "Am I Not a Human?" series titled, "The Suffering of the Palestinian Child under the Israeli Occupation," saying:
Palestinian children grow up "under the Israeli occupation, surrounded by cruelty, oppression, killing, starvation and destruction." Yet, like all children, they dream of playing and living normally and safely. Instead, their father may be dead or in prison, their brother killed, their home destroyed, and their mother forced to give birth at an Israeli checkpoint, risking her and the newborn.
Palestinian children grow up differently from most others, their development "distorted by an occupation," destroying their innocence, dreams and well-being. They live in constant fear, forced to grow up while still a child. "Actually (they are) grown up, for (they challenge) the toughest circumstances," helping their families, replacing a parent when lost, and confronting Israeli incursions. "Amazingly....Palestinian child(ren set) the example to mature people," even when very young.
They live when "we think that the world has become (more) civilized" without cruel colonizations, when global leaders defend human rights, dignity, democratic freedoms, and peace rhetorically, yet are indifferent to oppressed Palestinians, children always the most vulnerable, yet they persist and endure despite enormous hardships and obstacles, what Western children can't imagine.
From September 2000 (the start of the second Intifada) through 2007 alone, 1,400 children were killed, 230 under age 12. What about others under occupation, with no father, injured or handicapped, hungry, impoverished or in prison? Still more who've lost friends and relatives, who live in fear and can't sleep, who feel helpless when Israelis attack, and unprotected under a ruthless occupation, ongoing for over 43 years, affecting them physically, emotionally, and economically, making them feel isolated, helpless, and unaided, world leaders indifferent to their plight and their families.
Palestine is a young society, children comprising the majority. In its June 2007 annual report, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said 2.1 million are under age 18, representing 52.2% of the West Bank and Gaza, distributed as follows:
-- 17% below age five;
-- 15.4% from five - nine;
-- 13% from 10 - 14; and
-- 6.8% from 15 - 17.
They're Palestine's future, their development and regeneration hope for liberation, pursued courageously until achieved, but at a huge price.
From September 29, 2000 - December 31, 2008, children witnessed around 5,900 killings, over 35,000 injured, about 7,500 of their parents and relatives imprisoned, and the destruction of nearly 78,000 buildings through April 30, 2007.
A British study found that Palestinian children during the Intifada displayed higher political awareness levels. They know names of destroyed villages, especially where their parents were born, are knowledgeable about the conflict, and show commitment to resist it.
A separate report on Lebanese refugee children reveals extreme hardships under poor conditions in crowded homes without clean water, air, electricity, playgrounds, or job opportunities for their parents. In addition, children under age three experience a high rate of birth defects and respiratory diseases. In northern Lebanon, it's 44.5%. Yet their Lebanese Baccalaureate passing rate is 73.9%, showing a commitment to achieve.