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Church backs Amnesty report on treatment of children

An Amnesty International report that accused Israel and the Palestinians of showing an "utter disregard" for the lives of children is "fair and well documented," according to a Church official.

Fr Guido Gockel (pictured), Pontifical Mission for Palestine regional director, said Israeli and Palestinian leaders were wrong to be critical of the report, which chastised both sides for killing children "in an unprecedented manner".

Israeli Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit said the report should have distinguished between "the murder of Israeli children by terrorists and the inadvertent killing of Palestinian children." He also claimed 18 Palestinian youths under the age of 16 had died in suicide bombing missions.

Saeb Erekat, Palestinian minister of local government, said the Palestinian Authority has always come out against attacks on Israeli civilians and that it is "unfair" to blame the authority.

But Fr Gockel said, "Of course, everybody is attacking the report, everybody comes out looking bad in it. I'm not surprised people have a hard time with it."

The report said more than 250 Palestinian children and 72 Israeli children had been killed in violence since the intifada began in late September 2000 and documented many of the deaths with names, dates and testimony from witnesses.

The Universe

Israel and the Occupied Territories and the Palestinian Authority - Killing the future: Children in the line of fire (Amnesty Report)
Pontifical Mission for Palestine (Israel Yesterday and Today)

9 Oct 2002