We have taken a look at the torture and abuse which the innocent Palestinian children are made to suffer as well as the unfair legal system which is completely biased against them and we also covered the numbers of Palestinian children killed and injured during various periods of this Israeli onslaught.
We now take a look at the effects that this has had on the Palestinian children.
Education has been a source of both hope and transformation for the Palestinian people. After 1948, when a majority of Palestinians fled or were forced to leave their homeland – known as the Nakba (the catastrophe) – students and teachers played a critical role in rebuilding Palestinian society.
Palestinian schools, universities and informal institutions in exile and under occupation have contributed to sustaining Palestinian national life for a geographically fragmented people while also providing the skills for personal development and growth.
However, Palestinian educational life over the past seven decades has had to contend with the oppressive and often violent conditions of occupation and of exile.
The right to education is enshrined in international law, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions, which govern the conduct of war and military occupations. However, access to education is denied to Palestinians today in a number of ways.
Palestinian schools, universities and education ministry buildings are frequently the targets of military assault and demolition. For example, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reported that during Israel’s 50-day military assault on the Gaza Strip in 2014 known as ‘Operation Protective Edge’, 412 students were killed and 14 higher education institutions were damaged, some of which were ‘directly targeted during the hostilities’.
Due to the harsh planning restrictions imposed on Palestinians living in ‘Area C’, which makes up 61% of the occupied West Bank, there is a severe shortage of schools and other educational infrastructure and many that are built face the threat of demolition.
In September 2017, a joint statement issued by Save the Children, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt) warned of the urgent risk posed to the right of education for Palestinian children by the policy of school demolition, equipment confiscation and other practices impacting educational facilities by the occupying authorities.
Restrictions on Movement
Restrictions on movement affect access to education for Palestinians in a number of ways. The complex system of checkpoints, barriers, the Separation Wall, and the permit regime impose obstacles to the freedom of movement of individual Palestinians living under occupation. The impact is also experienced at the national level as Palestinian educational life suffers from the radical geographic fragmentation imposed by Israel.
On daily journeys to school and university, Palestinian students and teachers are forced to cross checkpoints, and are subjected to delays, detention and harassment by Israeli soldiers and settlers. The imposed separation of East Jerusalem from other occupied Palestinian territories prevents Palestinians outside the city from accessing Palestinian centres of learning and culture.
Since 2000, Israel has introduced bans on travel by students and academics which were further extended by the blockade that began in 2007. Today, Palestinians in Gaza are banned from pursuing their education in the West Bank, and are unable to attend the universities established for their benefit. Before 2000, 350 students from Gaza were studying at Birzeit University, today there are none.
Harassment and imprisonment
Students and children are frequently subject to arrest and imprisonment by the Israeli military. The Palestinian prisoner rights organisation Addameer reported on 17 December 2017 that 350 prisoners in Israeli jails were aged under 18. On average, 700 Palestinian children are prosecuted in the military court system every year, and since the year 2000 more than 12,000 have been detained.
Many prisoners are detained under the procedure of administrative detention based on British Mandate laws, which allows the imprisonment of Palestinians without public evidence, charge or trial.
While in prison, access to education is disrupted and heavily restricted, and in the case of children aged between 16 and 18, none is provided.
For Palestinian educational life in Gaza, the situation is worse since the blockade has effectively ended the entry of individual foreign passport holders while also heavily restricting the travel of Palestinian academics and students, forcing them to apply for exit permits in order to teach or study abroad. These restrictions isolate Palestinian higher education, denying universities access to international academic exchange.