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Saturday, May 29, 2004

Matters of Palestinian Children

A Palestinian boy sells cigarettes in a damaged street in the
Tel Sultan area of the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip,
Monday, May 24, 2004. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

PALESTINIAN CHILD ABUSE: Guess Who Digs the Rafah Tunnels?

Imshin found this in a Mideast: On Target newsletter:
[Gaza] tunnels were dug deeper, some reaching depths of 10 meters and more (over 30 feet), children were employed to dig around the clock, and when poor conditions led to tunnel collapse and the death of a child, there were plenty more to take his place.
Excellent blogger that she is, Imshin contacted the author, and he confirmed the information.
"I spent some six weeks in Gaza during 'Homat Magen' in April-May 2002 as a reserve officer. . . I had the opportunity to deal directly with the issue of the tunnels then and my experiences are firsthand.”
Do you think UNICEF might be upset about this? Might worry about those kids? As it happens, the executive director is there this very day.
UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy to visit Gaza City and Israel

GAZA CITY, 28 May 2004— In her first visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and Israel, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy will spend most of her time interacting with children who have been impacted by the long-running conflict.

Ms. Bellamy, the head of the world's largest children's right organization will have the chance to listen, to observe, and to express solidarity with children for whom living in conflict has become part of their daily lives. The children in Gaza City and those living in Israel have all lost relatives either during military operations or terror attacks.

The two-and-a-half day visit – which starts 29 May 2004, Saturday - will also be a chance to boost UNICEF's advocacy efforts on both Palestinian and Israeli sides. In meetings with Israeli officials, Ms. Bellamy is expected to bring up access problems - whether its children and teachers not able to get to class on time because of checkpoints or curfews, or whether its UNICEF staff not being able to access the worst affected areas. Palestinian officials will be reminded of the importance of mainstream resources towards such things as education and child protection. . . .

Of course Ms. Bellamy will have a chance to see UNICEF programmatic interventions in OPT. This includes a girl's school in Gaza City (UNICEF's work in education touches almost a million Palestinian school children), the Gaza City Children's Municipal Council (CMC) and members of UNICEF-supported Palestinian group that conducts peer-to-peer counseling activities for adolescents.
It didn't take Bellamy long to slam Israel for its detention of Palestinian teens:
JPost/AP: Israel should uphold international standards on the detention of children and ease travel restrictions that prevent thousands of Palestinian youths from getting an education, the head of the United Nations children's fund said Saturday at the start of a Middle East visit.

Human rights groups have raised concerns about the treatment of several hundred Palestinian teens held in Israeli detention centers and prisons, and UNICEF has called for the abolition of "administrative detention" - without charge or trial - for minors.

UNICEF executive director Carol Bellamy called on Israeli authorities "to comply with the international norms that are in place for purposes of detention of young people."
She still has a day and a half to come across the issue of Palestinians risking their children's lives by having them dig tunnels through which terrorists smuggle in weaponry from Egypt. For the purposeful murder of Israeli children.

EMAIL: media@unicef.org

See also (Israel Says) Children Are Used to Recruit Bombers in the New York Times.