Plight of Palestinian children

Sir, – September 9th is the UN International Day to Protect Education from Attack. The day was established by a unanimous decision of the UN General Assembly to raise awareness of the plight of millions of children living in countries affected by conflict. A child’s right to education is safeguarded not only when schools are safe places but also when they can safely travel to and from school. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has stated that more than half a million children in the Occupied Palestinian Territories face threats to their physical safety going and coming from school. In the first six months of last year, Israeli forces, private security guards, and settlers launched an average of 10 attacks per month on West Bank kindergartens and schools including on students and teachers. Fifty-three Palestinian schools are under demolition orders to make way for more illegal settlements.

In defiance of international law, Israel maintains a military occupation of the West Bank and continues to expand an infrastructure of walls, entry points and check points to regulate the movement of over 2.7 million Palestinians.

Israeli soldiers, police, and private security staff “protect” settler populations: unlike other Israeli civilians, many of the latter are armed. This creates a hyper-militarised environment that results in the infliction of disproportionate physical and psychological violence against Palestinian children.

Palestinian children’s experience of daily harassment on the school run is indicative of their entire life experience under occupation and siege. Already this year, 79 children have lost their lives in the West Bank and Gaza as a direct result of Israeli military and illegal settler presence. Each year, approximately 500 to 700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years old, are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. Israel is the only country in the world that routinely detains and tries children in a military system.


Before the summer break, the Dáil unanimously passed a motion recognising that Israel, in defiance of international law, has annexed large portions of the West Bank. Ireland is the first country in Europe to make such a declaration. The political parties in Dáil Éireann must now ask themselves if condemnation of breaches of international law is enough? It is now clear that Israel continues to act with impunity towards Palestinian children because it has not been sanctioned. The longer this unacceptable situation continues the louder the calls for sanctions will become, and to protect Palestinian children from attack while attending school, many, including our public representatives, will need to answer that call for sanctions to be imposed. – Yours, etc,


Trade Union Friends

of Palestine

(Education Group),

Dublin 9.