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PCHR Report: THE BEST IS YET TO COME – Humanitarian Stories Reflecting Palestinian Children´s Experience of Loss

 
Introduction
 
Behind the numbers and statistics related to Palestinian civilians who have fallen victim to Israeli
violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, there are people with horrifying stories
about loss, including many children. Despite great suffering, they still hold hope and ambition within
their hearts. In this report, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) aims to highlight the
stories of certain children from the Gaza Strip who have suffered from one of the many Israeli violations
committed against civilians and civilian property, and who still suffer from the bitterness of loss caused
by such violations.
 
This publication demonstrates the magnitude of the loss experienced by Palestinian children who were,
and still are, subjected to Israeli violations and still suffer from its impact and consequences. It focuses,
particularly, on presenting a number of the children’s personal experiences. These accounts demonstrate
four forms of loss:
 
• Loss of a family member who was killed by Israeli forces;
• Loss caused by injury of a child or a family member;
• Loss caused when a father is imprisoned inside an Israeli jail and the child is deprived the right to
family visits; and
• Loss caused by house demolition.
 
PCHR gathered the information included in this report through personal interviews with the children
and a number of their family members. These stories are but a small part of the whole picture, examples
which demonstrate the harsh reality of life for children in the Gaza Strip. The suffering of the living
continues without end, as the impact of the loss inflicted through violations by Israeli forces hinders
their ability to move on with their lives normally.
 
Since the outbreak of al-Aqsa Intifada on 28 September 2000, PCHR has documented the killing of 958
Palestinian children and injury of 6,355 others in the Gaza Strip alone. PCHR has also documented the
tragic consequences on thousands of children of their houses being destroyed, denying them the right
to shelter. In addition, dozens of Palestinian children whose fathers are imprisoned inside Israeli jails
suffer due to the Israeli policy of preventing children from visiting their fathers in prison, in violation
of international humanitarian law (IHL)

PCHR’s investigations of the vast majority of the crimes committed against children since 2000 have led
to a bitter conclusion: Israeli forces fail to take the necessary precautions when carrying out operations
and do not correctly apply the principle of distinction, failing to differentiate between civilians and non
civilians, military targets and civilian establishments. This is evident, for example, by the killing of 313
children who died in the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip between 27 December 2008 and 18 January
2009, also known as ‘Operation Cast Lead’.
 
While this report was being prepared, Israel launched a new offensive on the Gaza Strip, so-called
‘Operation Pillar of Defence’ which lasted from 14 to 21 November 2012. PCHR’s fieldworkers carried
out investigations around the clock during the offensive, obtaining evidence that many attacks were
carried out against civilians; among the 171 people who were killed during this offensive, 102 of them
were civilians, including 35 children. This offensive had a catastrophic impact on the people of the Gaza
Strip, and this suffering and pain of loss will continue into the future.
 
This report is, in short, a platform for a number of children, who have been victimised by the practices
of the Israeli forces, to make their voice heard throughout the world. The report aims to expose their
suffering through testimonies and stories that are filled with the pain of loss, yet full of hope for a more
beautiful life that awaits them.
 
We hope that this publication will enhance people’s understanding of the suffering endured by
Palestinian children. The report calls on Israel to fulfil its obligations under international human rights
and humanitarian law, and to ensure that perpetrators are accountable for their crimes. Furthermore,
the report calls on the international community, in particular the European Union and the United
States, to ensure that Israel abides by international human rights and humanitarian law in its treatment
of Palestinian people. International bodies, such as the UN Human Rights Council, also have a crucial
role to play in holding Israel to account for the actions of its forces. By challenging the impunity enjoyed
by the perpetrators of these violations, it is hoped that a change will come and the children of the Gaza
Strip will be given the opportunity to grow up in a better, safer world, and have the future that they
deserve.
 
Full Report (PDF): Here

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