Traumatisation of Palestinian school children reported at INTO Congress

Dorothy McGinley, chairperson of the INTO’s Northern Committee told delegates to the union’s annual conference about a recent visit she made to the West Bank as part of a delegation invited by Trade Union Friends of Palestine.

The visit was part of ongoing links forged with various unions and human rights groups in the region.

She said she wanted to recount what she witnessed of the traumatisation of children, the destruction of schools and control of what’s taught.

“Each year, 500-700 Palestinian children between 12-17 years are detained and prosecuted in military courts. They can be given up to ten years in prison for alleged throwing of stones at soldiers or insulting the honour of a soldier. When arrested, they have no access to lawyers or parents. Many children often confess to something they didn’t do as it then allows a lawyer in. The result is usually a collective punishment – a fine, a sentence and the family home demolished,” said Ms. McGinley.

She said, “Israeli authorities continue to demolish Palestinian schools citing lack of planning permission. Many of these schools are brand new buildings, paid for by the EU. What threat do these schools pose for Israeli authorities? What do they hope to achieve by denying education to thousands of children?”

“Israeli authorities continuously attempt to impose an Israeli curriculum in Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem, threatening to withdraw financial support from schools refusing to teach it. This is a further violation of rights which along with a dilapidated infrastructure has led to students unwilling to complete their education,” said Ms. McGinley.

She said her account was only a snapshot but one which she hoped would raise awareness of daily reality for Palestinian children.

She told delegates the union had a well-established Global Solidarity Network which focuses and campaigns against victimisation, harassment and violation of human rights.