- In July 2011, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights
(PCHR) issued a new report titled, "Education Denied: Israel's Systematic
Violation of Palestinian Children's Right to Education," even though
it's a fundamental human right.
- It involves progressively developing children as individuals
and responsible citizens. It's key in helping them "raise their standard
of living, and (be able to further their) economic, social and cultural
development and growth of society."
- PCHR's report addresses Israeli policies that affect
primary education achievement for all Palestinians by 2015.
- International law recognizes the right to education for
everyone, including Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) stating:
- "The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize
the right of everyone to education....(It) shall enable all persons to
participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance
and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups,"
as well as advance activities for peace.
- Fourth Geneva's Article 50 states:
- "The Occupying Power shall, with the cooperation
of the national and local authorities, facilitate the proper working of
all institutions devoted to the education of children."
- The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
(CESCR) calls it an indispensable human right, essential to include the
- -- Availability in proper, well-functioning, educational
- -- Accessibility to everyone without discrimination or
- -- Acceptability in terms of substance and quality; and
- -- Adaptability to reflect the needs of changing societies.
- "The best interests of (students) must always be
the primary consideration."
- Various other core international law provisions affirm
that "basic learning needs of all children....be satisfied."
Primary responsibility falls on State Parties, obligated to respect, protect,
and fulfill "positive measures to enable and assist individuals and
communities to enjoy the right to education."
- As an occupying power, Israel is obligated by law to
provide and encourage proper education for everyone. Nonetheless, it systematically
denies Palestinian children the right to primary (and secondary) education.
Its quality and accessibility are hampered by:
- -- military operations;
- -- physical safety issues;
- -- home demolitions and forced displacements;
- -- school overcrowding;
- -- too few facilities;
- -- many in disrepair;
- -- lack of teaching materials; and
- -- deteriorating children's mental health, living in
a violent environment.
- In addition, basic rights for all besieged Gazans are
denied or severely restricted, including for school children to be properly
educated. Earlier from 2000 - 2004, Israeli attacks destroyed 73 educational
institutions. During Cast Lead, public and private schools were deliberately
targeted, damaged or destroyed.
- Afterwards, Israel banned construction materials to prevent
rebuilding, a policy still largely in force. As a result, "82 per
cent of (damaged) Gaza schools (haven't) been repaired due to the lack
of reconstruction materials." As a result, quality and accessibility
of education to all students have been severely compromised.
- Frequent Israeli incursions also jeopardize children's
safety. Moreover, they and schools are "consistently targeted by Israeli
forces....Instances of killing and wounding of children at school have
been recorded," as well as educational facilities closed following
- In fact, schools in Gaza's "buffer zone" near
Israel face frequent sniper and other attacks, targeting Palestinians (including
children) in so-called restricted areas. In 2010, five children were killed,
another 44 wounded. As of April 2011, three children were killed, another
- As a result, trauma, anxiety, and lack of concentration
affect student performance, worried more about safety than learning. Isolation,
an electricity crisis, unsafe water, and lack of basic necessities exacerbate
- East Jerusalem also faces a chronic classroom shortage
at all levels. As a result, a February 8, 2010 memo from Deputy Attorney
General Yehudit Karp to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said Israel's
failure to fulfill its legal obligations causes "disastrous consequences
for the education system in East Jerusalem."
- Overall, around 5,300 students aren't enrolled in any
educational institution. Israel has done nothing to alleviate the problem
or reduce the high dropout rate, "notably in the post-elementary educational
- West Bank performance also is unsatisfactory. In 2009,
PA Ministry of Education and Higher Education standardized tests showed:
- -- only 43% of fourth-graders passed math;
- -- 66.7% passed Arabic; and
- -- 45.8% passed science.
- PCHR noted that today's tragic situation is easily reversed
and preventable. Only the international community's failure to hold Israel
accountable prevents it. "This is not acceptable....Palestinian children's
fundamental right to education (must be) ensured, and their future(s) protected."
- A Final Comment
- A new B'Tselem report titled, "No Minor Matter:
Violation of the Rights of Palestinian Minors by Israel on Suspicion of
Stone-Throwing" discusses another issue affecting hundreds of persecuted
- From 2005 through 2010, "at least 835 Palestinian
minors were arrested and tried in military courts - not for vandalism,
arson, robbery, rape or murder, for alleged stone-throwing. Thirty-four
were aged 12 - 13, 255 aged 14 - 15, and 546 aged 16 -17.
- All except one were convicted. Due process and judicial
fairness are nonstarters. Children are illegally treated like adults in
violation of international law, including:
- Article 37(b) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the
Child (CRC) stating:
- "The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child...shall
be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate
period of time."
- However, Israeli military orders systematically violate
international law provisions, norms and standards, operating extrajudicially
with regard to arrests, interrogations, detentions, treatment, family member
visitation rights, and legal representation, even for minors aged 10 or
- Even though Israel established a West Bank Military Youth
Court in November 2009, serious violations of children's rights continue.
- B'Tselem interviewed 50 minors for its report, obtaining
information from their arrest to release. Numerous rights violations were
- -- soldiers arrested 30 minors at home in the middle
of the night;
- -- parents weren't allowed to accompany them or know
details of their detention;
- -- three were interrogated the same night; 19 the next
morning; three that afternoon; and two five days later;
- -- only three got enough sleep prior to questioning;
five said soldiers woke them if they dozed off;
- -- 19 said they were threatened and treated violently;
- -- 23 were denied basic functions, including going to
the bathroom, eating and drinking;
- -- most children arrested were detained without bail
until proceedings against them concluded; as a result, most (like adults)
accept a plea bargain, pleading guilty to lesser charges (whether or not
culpable for any) for shorter sentences; otherwise, they could be kept
in jails or prison for long periods pre-trial, exacting a terrible toll;
- -- military courts impose incarceration in lieu of alternative
punishments, in violation of international law.
- In fact, 93% of minors convicted of stone-throwing were
imprisoned for a few days to 20 months. Nineteen were 13 or younger even
though Israeli law prohibits incarceration of children under age 14. Their
only relief was shorter sentences when, in fact, stone-throwing, at most,
is a misdemeanor, warranting nothing more than a reprimand, regardless
- Israel, however, convicted them lawlessly for being Muslims
in a Jewish state. Most were denied family visitations, telephone privileges,
and availability of educational services other than a few subjects inadequately,
denying their ability to learn and be promoted.
- Few Israeli officials involved in security and judicial
procedures called for reforming brazen practices, infringing the rights
of minors, even though Israel is obligated under international law to do
- In fact, Principle 1 of the UN Declaration of the Rights
of the Child states:
- "Every child, without exception whatsoever, shall
be entitled to (fundamental human and civil) rights, without distinction
or discrimination on account of race, colour, sex, language, religion,
political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth
or other status, whether of himself or of his (or her) family."
- Israel, however, spurns all international laws, norms
and standards, doing what it damn pleases extrajudicially because world
leaders don't hold it accountable. As a result, Palestinians chafe grievously
under the yoke of its repression.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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