Conflict and consequences in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory

Map Israel and occupied Palestanian territory Duration of the conflict
1948 - present

Nature of the conflict
Ethnic/religious/geopolitical conflict/occupation, with intermittent hostilities resulting in many casualties, most of them civilian.

Humanitarian aspects
Human Development Index 20071: Israel: 23 (2006: 23). Occupied Palestinian territory (oPt): 106 (2006: 100). The number of Palestinian refugees has grown from 700,000 in 1948 to 4.6 million in 2007. Violence by army, settlers and militants continues to result in the deaths of children on both sides. More than 10,000 Palestinian children have been injured and 398 Palestinian children are being held in Israeli detention facilities.

Child soldiers

Country's current phase
Chronic crisis, continued occupation of the West Bank and besieging of Gaza by Israel; Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilian targets. Sometimes portions of the region are in a state of emergency (e.g. during the ongoing hostilities in Gaza), whilst at other moments the situation is stable and countries are in a development or even developed phase (Israel). On the West Bank there is a process of rehabilitation and development, but that process is hampered by the unpredictable and explosive situation.


The world sees Israel as the 'Jewish State'. This overlooks the fact that 20% of the population is formed by Palestinian citizens of Israel. This population group lives separately from the Jewish population in their own villages and neighbourhoods. They are in a difficult situation. On one hand they are discriminated against by the Jewish majority, and on the other they are torn between loyalty to the nation in which they live and the solidarity they feel with the Palestinian people with whom the nation in which they live is in conflict. The disturbances in bordering Lebanon also create tensions throughout the entire region. Jewish children are also affected by the conflict as they live in fear of attacks. In the region bordering Gaza, there is also a great fear of rocket attacks, which also strike schools or other public buildings.

The occupied Palestinian territory
Israel continues with the military and civil occupation of the West Bank, which leads to harsh living conditions for the Palestinians. Checkpoints, roadblocks and curfews make movement difficult and also the economic situation keeps deteriorating. Although Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in summer 2005, it controls and many times hinders the import of food, medical care, etc. Israel runs military operations throughout the occupied Palestinian territory in search for militants, but harming civilians at the same time. Out of the four million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, around 53% are children. They suffer greatly from the continual violence. Children are not only wounded or killed by Israeli armed forces or internal armed groups, they also suffer severe psychological damage when they, their family members or their friends are victims of violence. The conflict precludes a safe, healthy living environment for children. In addition to this, the rights to education and health care are violated on a daily basis.

Children in armed groups
There is no systematic recruitment of child soldiers known in the Middle East, and they are not recognised in the Middle East as a specific group.

1 Human Development Index 2007: Human Development Index 2007: This United Nations index is a classification of countries based on their level of development (in terms of poverty, illiteracy, education, and life expectancy).

Door de bril van

Karen Doubilet, researcher and doctoral candidate at the Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv

Karen Doubilet, researcher in Tel Aviv: “In this hotbed of ethno-political conflict, Arab and Jewish youth are sharing a vision for a joint future.”

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