Israel Disputes Group’s Charges on Child Casualties in Intifada

Israel has reacted angrily to a report by Amnesty International holding its security forces responsible for the “alarmingly high” number of casualties among Palestinian children during the course of the intifada.

The London-based human rights organization released a report Tuesday on the brutal treatment of children worldwide, in connection with the World Summit for Children to be held at the United Nations in New York this weekend.

The report alleges that 153 children have been killed and many more beaten by Israeli security forces in the administered territories since the Palestinian uprising began in December 1987.

“The majority of casualties during the first year of the intifada were under 15 years old,” the privately sponsored humanitarian organization says in the report.

“In an alarmingly high number of incidents, the children did not appear to have been involved in any life-threatening activity,” the report states.

A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy here denounced the allegations as inaccurate, outdated and full of omissions.

Children have been exploited by the intifada’s leaders, who use them as stone-throwers and bombers, the Israelis charged, “because of the impact children (casualties) have on the Western consciousness.”

According to the Israelis, the death toll in the intifada includes 76 children, half the Amnesty figure. And most of those fatalities occurred in the early stages of the uprising.

The vast majority of intifada-related casualties now are the result of internecine fighting among Palestinians, the Israelis said.

The Amnesty report cited alleged human rights abuses of children in 19 countries, including Iraq, South Africa and the United States.

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