The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has expressed its deep concerns over the sufferings of the children in Gaza following the current Israeli offensive.
In a statement, it said it strongly deplored "the devastating effects that the current military engagement in Gaza is having on children. Hundreds of children have been killed or injured, many seriously. Many others have lost their loved ones. The continuous fighting and destruction of livelihoods and basic infrastructures, severely compromise enjoyment of human rights
especially in relation to health, education and family life. Children have also experienced serious difficulties in accessing humanitarian aid. The emotional and psychological effects of these events on an entire generation of children will be severe."
It also drew the attention of Israel to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by 193 States, testifying to a universally recognized commitment for the respect and protection of the rights of children.
But all the rights enshrined in the Convention, including the right of children to life, survival and development and to be protected from all forms of violence, have been blatantly violated during this crisis, the statement points out.
The Committee stresses that, under article 38 of the Convention, States parties - in accordance with their obligations under
international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population in armed conflicts - shall take all feasible measures to ensure
protection and care of children who are affected by an armed conflict. They also undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the rules of international humanitarian law applicable to them in armed conflicts which are relevant to the child. The Committee emphasizes that all parties must ensure the protection of children during the conflict and abide by the relevant provisions of international law in this respect.
The Committee also underlines that in the preamble of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflict -- to which Israel is a Party - condemning "the targeting of children in situations of armed conflict and direct
attacks on objects protected under international law, including places that generally have a significant presence of children, such as schools and hospitals."
The Committee said it was joining the calls of Security Council Resolution 1860 (adopted on 8 January 2009), the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict for an immediate cessation of hostilities from both sides".
The UN Committee on Rights of the Child is one of eight human rights treaty bodies whose role is to monitor signatory states'
implementation of key international human rights treaties. The Committee monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and its two Optional Protocols.