occupied Palestinian territories

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

Facts and figures

  • Total population: 4.9 million
  • Total population under 18: 2.3 million
  • Children affected by conflict: 800,000
  • Number of War Child projects in 2019: Four
  • Number of implementing partner organisations: 16
  • Number of partners providing funding: Four
  • Total child participants: 12,846 (5,322 girls and 7,524 boys)
  • Total adult participants: 4,258 (2,775 women and 1,483 men)

National Context

Children and youth growing up in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) are exposed to a great number of threats to their safety and wellbeing.

The security situation inside Gaza remains tense in the wake of last year’s mass demonstrations along the perimeter fence with Israel. Exchanges of projectiles across Gaza’s border have increased in frequency. Retaliatory air attacks by Israeli forces have been swift and brutal - resulting in the killing and maiming of children.

Humanitarian conditions inside Gaza are now at crisis point as a result of the air and sea blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt. Access to food, clean water and electricity is regularly disrupted. Gaza is at risk of a total systems collapse - with one UN report stating that unless urgent action is taken the territory will soon become ‘unliveable’.

Ongoing settlement construction in the West Bank has seen many Palestinian families lose their homes. UN figures estimate that some 350,000 West Bank inhabitants are vulnerable to settler violence - and the number of forced demolition orders continues to rise on a yearly basis.

Some 2.5 million people inside the occupied Palestinian territory are identified as in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. The resulting psychological distress is evident among children and the wider population. Some 52,000 people - half of them children - currently require urgent mental health support in Gaza alone.

“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 from Gaza

Situation of Children

Children living in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) are forced to grow up in an environment where political tensions frequently result in outbreaks of violence.

An 11-year-old in Gaza has already lived through three armed conflicts - including the 2014 conflict with Israel in which 1,462 Palestinian civilians were killed, including 551 children, as well as six Israeli civilians. A further 71 child fatalities - and some 18,000 acute injuries - have been recorded in Gaza and the West Bank since the start of 2018.

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.

Opt1918x1080

In our programmes, children in the occupied Palestinian territories can learn and play safely

Photo: War Child

What we do

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

We work to support 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.

And whenever 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 most vulnerable areas of 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 Israeli detention or in conflict with the Palestinian law for children in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.

Caregiver Support Intervention

The Caregiver Support Intervention has been designed to lower stress and improve wellbeing among parents and other caregivers of children - in order to strengthen their ability to make the best use of the parenting knowledge and skills they already possess.

Voices of Children

Growing Up Under Blockade

Children and youth inside Gaza remain at the mercy of life under the goods blockade - children like 10-year-old Rami and his brothers.

Rami's mother Haifa struggles to protect her children from the perpetual suffering and threat of violence. “The area where we live was very dangerous during the wars”, she says. “There were regular suicide attacks.”

The family had to flee their home several times to escape Israeli tanks and grenade attacks. “Years of fear meant we were unable to resume our old lives. Not just mentally, but also financially”, she adds, referring to the permanent siege and closure policy imposed on Gaza.

“I have become less shy - and now I dare to feel more."
Rami (10) from Gaza

To learn how to deal with her experiences and, in turn, support her sons, Haifa takes part in War Child’s Caregiver Support Intervention together with Rami.

Rami sees a big difference in his mother. She no longer scolds him and his brothers, and instead plays games such as stone, paper, scissors. She also shares her relaxation exercises with them. “I now find it easier to tell my mother about my feelings and problems,” Rami says.