Gaza children suffer under Israeli siege

Child labor is one of the international cortical obstacles that put the life and the rights if children in danger.

Looking to this challenge in the Palestinian context widen its reasons’ scale to include the Israeli Siege on Gaza. While the global number of children in the work force (246 million) has fallen dramatically since 2000, child labour in Gaza has risen. Also, although child labour is a large-scale problem in the occupied Palestine , little action is being taken by humanitarian groups. The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics reports that 28.5 per cent of the children who don’t attend school are engaged in child labour. Furthermore, the number of children less than 18 years old mid 2016 is about 2,207,535 children in Palestine. It said 2,900 of those children are below the legal employment age of 15. According to the Defense for Children, 4 .5% of the total number of children aged 10-17 years were working with or without pay in 2015 is 2.8% in Gaza Strip.

The Israeli occupation with its continues siege including 3 devastating attacks against the Palestinians in Gaza plays a significant role in increasing the number of working children. Ali, is a 12 years old child from Al Shajaia whom I always see setting behind the University gate. I was curious to know why he is not going to school like the other children at his age. At the beginning, he was hesitant to open but then he gradually started to answer me. He said that he is the oldest son to his parents and his father was injured at the last Zionist attack in 2014. His father has turned to be disabled and he no longer can work. Ali completed that his family economic condition started to get worst and worst especially that his mother gave birth to a twin. His parents used to value education and encourage him to get high marks. However, this changed and the major aim of the family now is to survive from the ghost of poverty. About his dreams, “I want to have some time to play with the children in my age. I want to complete my education and be an engineer.”

Child labor is not only threatening the child education but also his physical and mental health. Children may face serious heath illnesses while doing exhausting works for long hours especially in the very cold or hot weather. Another child whose name is Mohammed said that one day, while he was selling chocolates and walking among the cars in the street, he suddenly found himself in front of a large car which hit him in an accident where he was about to lose his leg. He said; ” I was frightened to death after that accident and asked my mother to let me stop working. After I thought of it a bit, I realized that my mother and my siblings depend a lot on my work. I couldn’t help it. I continued. ” Another one who is selling siege in the market said to me that many other vendors and people abuse him verbally but he continues to sell because he has no choice.

In brief, child labor as work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their schooling. Moreover, one can clearly notice that the barbaric actions of the Zionist entity including imposing the siege for more than 11 years, closing the borders, and targeting the factories, farmers, and fishermen lead to serious problems such as poverty and unemployment which in their turn lead to child labor. Therefore, what a Palestinian can do when the international law itself is helpless? (WAFA A. ALUDAINI)


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