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Occupied Palestinian Territories

Children in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) grow up in an uncertain atmosphere where the threat of violence is never far away.

National context

The political and security situation inside the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), though tense, was comparatively stable following the violent upheavals of 2014 and 2015. Yet large numbers of people remain in need of humanitarian assistance and, as of December 2017, tension has markedly increased in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Conditions in Gaza are deteriorating fast after the detrimental effects of a ten-year blockade. Access to food, clean water, electricity and basic necessities is now regularly disrupted. Ongoing settlement construction in the West Bank has seen many Palestinian families lose their homes - further fuelling tensions in the area.

A vicious cycle of political violence and retaliation persists across the occupied Palestinian territories. Across multiple political conflicts - including intra-Palestinian and international disputes - the basic human rights of civilians are not being upheld. The resulting psychological distress is evident among children and the wider population. 

Situation of children

Children living in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) are forced to grow up in an environment where political tensions frequently result in outbreaks of violence. Children in Gaza live in constant fear of another surge of violence. Most have witnessed several armed conflicts already - including the 2014 conflict with Israel in which 1,462 Palestinian civilians were killed, including 551 children, as well as six Israeli civilians.

In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, violence against children remains a grave concern. Safe play areas are scarce and children playing in the street are exposed to risks of injury or violence.

Children face violence at home, in schools and through exchanges with Israeli forces in which young people are injured and killed. The military arrest and detention of children as young as 12 is disturbingly common.

What we do

War Child works with local professional organisations, community groups and families to protect children from harm and support their psychosocial wellbeing.

We work to create safe play and recreation spaces. These facilities allow children exposed to conflict and occupation to get back to being children. We train community members, particularly young people, to provide children in these spaces with vital life skills and psychosocial support.

We also support families and caregivers to cope with the stress of life amidst conflict and occupation. We help to strengthen their resilience and ability to provide nurturing family environments that help to reduce the impact of conflict on children.

War Child works to teach children and the people who care for them about their rights and responsibilities under international laws and conventions to which Israel and the Palestinian Authority are both signatories. And when we see that children’s rights are violated - no matter by whom - we speak out. 

Our projects

Protecting Children in No Man’s Land

Initiative to provide outreach and mobile child protection, psychosocial support, recreation and legal resources to Palestinian children and communities in the West Bank.

Helping Children Heal

Providing psychosocial support, protection and recreation opportunities to the most marginalised Palestinian children and communities in Gaza.

No Place for a Child

Providing support in prevention, mitigation and rehabilitation from experiences of violence during conflict with the law for children in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.

Youth Engagement, Youth Empowerment

Engaging marginalized young people in community-based sports activities in Gaza to improve their mental and physical health, wellbeing and social connectedness. 

Voices of children

Road to Recovery

War Child’s ongoing emergency response programme in Gaza provides specialist psychosocial support and protection to children exposed to the effects of violence. Participants like Ahmad learn how to cope with their traumatic experiences in a safe environment.

Ahmad’s story is sadly typical of the thousands of children who were caught up in ‘Operation Protective Edge’ - the military operation launched by Israel in the Gaza Strip during 2014. “Our house was bombed more than once,” he told us.

“We were not able to leave our home and move to a safer place. I felt very scared when I heard the sounds of missiles, planes and bombings - it felt like there were monsters and goblins around me and I couldn’t sleep.”

Ahmad eventually found a safe place with relatives in the Sheikh Radwan area. He enrolled in War Child activities - and found new motivation. “I disliked school but when the lifeskills activities started in the ‘Love and Peace Association’ I felt the difference from the methods used in school,” he explains.

“I felt happy and became less nervous. Now my grades in exams are better than before.”