Press Statement From Palestinian Mothers

Source: Palestine Media Center

May 10, 2001

"States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to
life."  Article 6, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

We Palestinian mothers stand before you today in order to focus your
attention on the human tragedy, which has unfolded before our eyes in the
West Bank and Gaza. Its a tragedy, which continues to be played out, with
no seeming end in sight. We are all mourning the loss of our children who
have been ripped from our lives as a result of the senseless violence
being perpetrated against our people by the Israeli occupation army.

We are striving to raise international awareness regarding the
circumstances of Palestinian childrens lives as well as the pattern of
gross and systematic human rights violations they are exposed to on a
daily basis as a result of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and
Gaza.

While the entire civilian population has suffered as a result of Israeli
attacks, the effect on Palestinian children has been most severe. Since
September 28, 156 children 18 years of age and younger have been killed by
Israeli soldiers or settlers. Three days ago, Israeli fire ripped through
four-month-old Iman Haju, as she sat in her mothers lap in her home in
Khan Younis. Yesterday, three-month-old Reema Ahmed and her mother were
wounded by Israeli tank fire fragments in Rafah when the Israeli army
shelled the area of their home. Little Reema, whose injury was sustained
in the head, is in the hospital in stable condition. Palestinian hospitals
are full of our young ones who have been maimed and crippled in the latest
fighting.

Many of our children will have to go through life minus an eye, a limb or
with a permanent disability because of the brutality of the Israeli
forces. We fear that the children of Palestine face a bleak future as they
struggle to escape the terrors of the Israeli military occupation.

The Palestinian people are suffering the tragic consequences of Israels
failure to comply with its obligations under international law. Nine years
ago, on 2 November 1991, the UN convention on the Rights of the Child
(CRC), the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, entered
into force in Israel. Article 4 of the convention obliges State Parties to
take all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for
the implementation of the rights recognized in the Convention.

These rights include, among others, the right to life (article 6) the
right to education (article 28), the right to be free from torture and
other inhumane treatment (article 37), the right to due process (article
37), the right to health care (article 24), the right to an adequate
standard of living (article 27) and the right to recreation and leisure
(article 31). Of particular importance to Palestinian children, article 38
of the CRC requires that States Parties ensure the protection of children
who are affected by armed conflict.

The international community has failed to ensure respect for the CRC and
has failed to provide urgently needed protection for the Palestinian
people. Instead we find ourselves on the defensive, forced to respond to
allegations that Palestinian mothers send their children out to die. We
are horrified by these attempts to dehumanize us as people.

We care for our children as all mothers of the world. It is estimated that
less than one percent of Palestinian adolescents have taken an active part
in clashes or demonstrations. Most of our children have been killed or
injured in their homes, where they are supposed to be safe, or on their
way to and from school.

Last month, at a conference organized by the Coalition to Stop the Use of
Child Soldiers, with the participation of over 110 senior government and
military officials, UN child-rights experts and NGOs from across the
region of the Middle East and North Africa, it was reported that there was
no evidence that children were being recruited or used systematically by
the Palestinian Authority or armed groups in the Intifada, or uprising,
against Israeli occupation.

There is not a Palestinian child that is not affected by the Israeli
occupation and Israeli military attacks on Palestinian cities, towns, and
villages. Some children are virtually prisoners in their homes as a result
of Israeli imposed curfews, and closures. Tens of schools have been
closed, three schools have been transformed into military installations,
and thousands of students and hundreds of teachers cannot even get to
school. Also, the long-term social and psychological ramifications of the
violence on our children are frightening.