• Elmyrah
    forgets all the tensions in Hebron when she is on stage
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Occupied Palestinian Territory

Many children in occupied Palestinian territory and parts of Israel grow up in an atmosphere of tension, where every day has the potential for violence.

The complex political, geographic, ethnic, and religious conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has manifested in periods of extreme violence over the past 65 years. The West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip came under Israeli occupation during the 1967 Six-Day war. This occupation, two intifadas, several military incursions in the Gaza strip and blockades are just some of the many outbreaks of violence that have destabilised the region and the lives of its citizens. 

The situation is further complicated by the non-implementation of the Oslo Accords and illegal settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Conflicts between governing parties in Gaza and the West Bank also impede the potential for a lasting peace.

Operation Protective Edge resulted in nearly 2,000 deaths, including nearly 500 children (as of August 2014). War Child launched an emergency programme to provide specialised support for thousands of children throughout Gaza.

In October 2015 violence escalated again in confrontations between Palestinian civilians and Israeli forces and armed settlers.

Children living in different parts of the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel face vastly different realities. Children living in the West Bank may need to cross a check point to go to school or hospital, face arbitrary arrest by Israeli soldiers or police, or random violence perpetrated by settlers. Children living in Gaza may face unexpected and indiscriminate gun-fire, tank incursions and shelling, often at night. They experience high-rates of poverty and poor living conditions such as lack of access to clean water. Children from minorities groups in Israel, such as Bedouins or Palestinians, may face religious or ethnic discrimination. Israeli children living near the border with Gaza face sporadic conflict-related violence, particularly rocket fire.

Palestinian children continue to bear the brunt of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and are denied their basic human rights as a consequence. These violations are cited by several sources, including the Children Affected by Armed Conflict Bulletin (UNICEF). As the occupying power, Israel is responsible for protecting the rights and ensuring the basic needs and welfare of the Palestinian civilian population, including children, under its control (Articles 27 and 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention). 

What we do

War Child and its partners in occupied Palestinian territory provide children with a chance to express their thoughts, opinions, and emotions, learn how to cope with their reality, build a positive outlook on the future and claim their rights. We do this together with parents, teachers, and government officials, and especially with children and young people themselves.

Through theatre, visual arts and life-skills workshops, War Child helps children in occupied Palestinian territory regain their childhoods. Through their creations on paper, film or the stage, children can tell their stories in their own words to an audience of their peers and adults in a safe environment. In East Jerusalem, War Child helps young people who have experienced arrest to access information about their rights and the legal process. 

War Child complements the work of the Israeli and Palestinian authorities, filling the gaps when they themselves do not have the ability or the will to fulfill the rights of children. War Child is also careful not to duplicate the work of the authorities or provide services where they are not needed. For example, because the Israeli government takes measures to protect and support Israeli children affected by the violence near the border with Gaza, War Child focuses its interventions on other vulnerable groups.