Saturday, October 05, 2002

More Young Victims Falling on Front Lines in the Mideast
As the current Palestinian uprising enters its third year with Israeli forces reoccupying most West Bank cities, children are often on the front line as soldiers use live ammunition to enforce curfews and break up violent street protests, sometimes with deadly results.

There were more young casualties today. At Nazlat Zeid, a village near Jenin, soldiers imposing a curfew opened fire during a stone-throwing clash, killing Muhammad Zeid, 15, reportedly as he stood near his house. The army said the soldiers had violated firing regulations.

Near the Askar refugee camp in Nablus, Ibrahim Madani, 12, was critically wounded in the head when Israeli troops fired at a nearby taxi violating the curfew, residents said. A soldier at the camp was later shot and wounded when he got out of a tank to repair a tread, the army said.

The latest violence came as the London-based rights group Amnesty International issued a report this week asserting that both the Israeli Army and Palestinian armed groups were killing children with impunity.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child called on Israelis and Palestinians today to "refrain from using and/or targeting children in the armed conflict," which it said had been marked by "acts of terror on both sides."

Amnesty International said more than 250 Palestinian children had been killed from the outbreak of the violence in September 2000 to the end of August this year. Seventy-two Israeli children have been killed, 70 percent of them in suicide bombings, it said. About 7,000 Palestinian children and hundreds of Israeli children have been wounded.

The overwhelming majority of Palestinian child victims were killed when "members of the Israeli Defense Forces responded to demonstrations and stone-throwing incidents with excessive and disproportionate use of force, and as a result of the I.D.F.'s reckless shooting, shelling and aerial bombardments of residential areas," the report said.

It asserted that most of the children were killed when the lives of soldiers were not at risk.