The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified in 1990. As of 2022, 196 countries have signed the convention, including Israel. But the Israeli occupation of Palestine is robbing Palestinian children of their rights.
Children have the right to education; to safely and freely attend school. But students in Palestine—especially in the H2 area of al Khalil/Hebron—must cross from three to five Israeli checkpoints, risking their physical safety and mental health in order to get an education. The Israeli soldiers often ask the students to open their bags—an illegitimate invasion of privacy and assumption of criminality—while insulting the children or speaking rudely to them. It is absurd that a fully outfitted soldier with the most modern weapons in the world would treat children this way, not only violating their right to education, but also their right to mental and physical health, movement, assembly, and privacy.
There are times when soldiers will close the checkpoints specifically while students are going to or coming home from school. The occupation forces claim that students throw stones at the checkpoints, so they close access almost every day for one to two hours or more, without care if the weather is hot, cold or rainy. They feel powerful when they hold children at the checkpoints who wait for them to open it so they can move through their neighbourhood. One time, I asked the soldiers to open the gate. “Why did you close it?” I asked, “it’s hot here.” He answered, “the children deserve it because they threw stones at my checkpoint and I will keep it closed for two hours.”
I asked some children how they feel when they have to cross the checkpoints. Some told me they are afraid of the soldiers detaining or slapping them. Other students told us that they know of alternative routes to avoid the checkpoints.
Pray for the children who fear walking to school. Pray for healing for children who have gone through a traumatic experience at the hands of the occupation forces. Pray for the dismantling of the occupation and the removal of checkpoints.