LONDON – The international community’s attention in the Middle East nowadays is inevitably focused on the Islamic State’s military advances in Syria and Iraq, the failed states of Yemen and Libya, the activities of Islamic extremists everywhere, and the continuing efforts to complete a deal to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Meanwhile, the oldest dispute in the region – the subject of a decades-long peace process that moves nowhere – continues to fester and worsen in Palestine and Israel.
A report submitted earlier this month by the NGO Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the Palestine-Israel conflict’s toll on children in 2014 underscores some of the most damaging consequences of this state of affairs. Its reception also serves as a reminder of why we have made no progress toward peace.
Last year, according to the DCIP report, 561 children were killed – 557 of them Palestinian, most as a result of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza during the summer. In addition, almost 3,000 Palestinian children were injured during that 50-day conflict, with about 1,000 permanently disabled.
The report also details the destruction of schools, the post-conflict mental health problems faced by the young, and the imprisonment of children. According to Ban, the number of Palestinian children killed in 2014 was higher than the numbers of child deaths in Syria and Darfur, and was exceeded only in Afghanistan and Iraq. The number of schools destroyed in Palestinian areas was the highest recorded anywhere.