As the man-made crisis in Gaza is nearing a dangerous climax, Israel’s military has awarded the Gaza Division with a “certificate of appreciation” for its role in suppressing Palestinian protests. Described in the media as “clashes,” these protests involve Israeli snipers firing into crowds of unarmed young Palestinians. The award was given as the number of unarmed protesters wounded since March 30 surpassed 22,000 and the killings reached 198.
While my country has long been free from racist minority rule, the world is not yet free of the crime of apartheid. I see the eerie similarities between Israel’s racial laws and policies towards Palestinians, and the architecture of apartheid in South Africa. We South Africans know apartheid when we see it. In fact, many recognise that, in some respects, Israel’s regime of oppression is even worse.
As Israel’s blockade of Gaza enters its 11th year, the economic and humanitarian situation has become so dire that youth are beginning to take the risk of crossing into Israel to find work. When 6 boys tried this on Saturday, they were shot at by Israeli forces, although they posed no threat. 2 of the boys made it back home, 2 were injured, and 2 didn’t make it out alive.
One of the most dangerous places in the world for children is the occupied Palestinian territories where, in the last year, at least 20 Palestinian children have been killed and over 1,000 others injured by Israeli forces. Gaza’s 1 million children are especially at risk, as food, medicine, and electricity are in short supply, and 97% of drinking water contaminated. The world has Israel to thank for this man-made humanitarian crisis.
A boy who threw stones at IDF jeeps suffered the punishment of execution by a soldier; it was the third time in recent weeks that soldiers aimed at stone-throwers’ heads.
Palestinian children often throw stones at Israeli army vehicles invading Palestinian land – but even if they don’t, they may be accused, arrested, or even abducted for “allegedly” doing so.
Israeli violence is a daily occurrence for Palestinians, and children are not exempt. Israeli soldiers and settlers alike are to be feared. Here are two short stories from a typical day.
The Palestinian Center for Detainees’ Studies has reported that Israeli soldiers have abducted more than 400 Palestinians, including 55 children and eight women, in September.
Defense for Children International, Palestine reports on the current situation in refugee camps, where danger and hunger are ever present.