MIDDLE EAST

Israeli forces kill 16 Palestinian children in first half of 2019

Israeli occupation forces killed 16 Palestinian children and injured 1,223 in the blockaded Gaza Strip in the first half of this year, according to a Palestinian human rights group.

According to a report released by the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, hundreds of Palestinian children have been subjected to Israeli violence since the Great March of Return started last year, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinian demonstrators converged on the buffer zone separating Gaza from Israel. During the same period, 17 children were detained by Israeli forces during protests. The report also revealed that there has been an increase in the number of Palestinian children killed and injured by Israeli forces, while pointing out the ongoing systematic violations of human rights in the Gaza Strip.

In a press release last year, the Defense for Children International-Palestine, which advocates for the rights of Palestinian children in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, asserted earlier that Israeli forces had deliberately killed minors with live ammunition. Israel has responded to the rallies, still held every Friday, with deadly force, killing more than 220 Palestinians and injuring thousands more. Israel was criticized by a U.N. human rights body for its killing of protesters in Gaza and for its treatment of Palestinians, declaring it a "war crime" under the Statute of Rome. The high casualty toll triggered a diplomatic backlash against Israel and new charges of excessive use of force against unarmed protesters.

Israeli violence has continued amid years of diplomatic paralysis, diminishing hopes for peace and escalating Palestinian frustration with the policies of U.S. President Donald Trump. Roughly 10,000 children have been detained by Israeli security forces since 2000 and subjected to military court proceedings. International human rights groups have heavily criticized Israel's handling of Palestinian teen hero Ahed Tamimi, placing under scrutiny the Israeli military court system that Palestinian youth face in the West Bank. Tamimi was freed after an eight-month detention, but some 270 Palestinian children continue to be imprisoned and are subjected to poor treatment by Israeli jailers. According to a report released last July by the Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies, there was a 30 percent increase in the number of children arrested when compared to the same period in 2017 when 380 children were arrested by Israeli forces.

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