On November 12, 2020, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) published “Raided and Razed: Attacks on West Bank Education,” a 44-page report alleging “296 attacks against education by Israeli forces or settlers and settlement private security guards” in January 2008 – June 2020.
The publication was funded by the Norwegian government (Representative Office to the PA) and the EU (ECHO). Notably, the EU also funded a highly politicized and misleading report based on allegations regarding detention of Palestinian children, published in October by Save the Children.
The Campaign to Blacklist the IDF at the UN
For many years, NRC, Save the Children, alongside Defence for Children International Palestine (DCIP),1 and other advocacy NGOs have lobbied the UN Secretary-General intensively to include the IDF on the list of the world’s worst violators of children’s rights. (Currently, only terrorist organizations, state-sponsored militias, and armed forces of failed states are on the list.) The goal of their campaign is to trigger UN Security Council sanctions against Israel, by listing the IDF in the annex to the Sec-Gen’s annual report by the UN Secretary-General.
Entities found to be systematically violating at least one of five “trigger” and “grave violations” identified in Security Council Resolution 1612 can be included in the annex.2 These include “recruitment and use,” “killing and maiming,” “rape and other forms of sexual violence against children,” “attacks on schools and hospitals,” and “abduction of children.”
As part of the campaign against Israel, and in the absence of evidence of “grave violations,” the NRC claims to document incidents of “attacks on education.” “Attacks on education” is not a legal term; it was invented by NGOs to broaden the UN definition of “attacks on schools and hospitals” and is used in the context of Palestinians with the cynical objective of including Israel on the Secretary-General’s list.
False and artificial examples of “attacks on education” in NRC’s report include:
- “Israeli forces prevented teachers from helping students cross the road”
- “Israeli soldiers photographed and attempted to enter the previously demolished As-Simiya school premises”
- “Arrest or detention of student” or staff (“during school day or while travelling to or from school)”
- “Route or entrance to school closed or obstructed (includes instances where checkpoints are closed; roads are demolished, blocked, or declared as military zones, and school entrances are sealed or obstructed)”
- Numerous incidents and allegations involving Israeli civilians. However, these cannot be considered violations by the IDF.
NRC’s recommendations to the Sec-Gen framework on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) clearly reflects the effort to list the IDF, in particular for demolitions of school structures built without permits (this issue is not part of the CAAC criterion of “attacks on schools and hospitals” during armed conflicts):
- “Guide CAAC working group partners in putting in place a clear and well-structured monitoring and reporting mechanism of attacks against schools, particularly strengthening the understanding of attacks in the context of law enforcement operations and in relation to attacks or threats of attack against students and teachers, and ensure such information is adequately reflected in the UN Secretary General’s annual report on CAAC.”
- “Ensure that information collected in relation to the wanton destruction of schools is shared with the CAAC working group and included in its communication to UN Headquarters for reflection in the UN Secretary General’s annual report on CAAC.”
In summary, NRC’s EU-funded project was designed from the beginning to target Israel as part of an ongoing political campaign that exploits and distorts the CAAC framework, and has no substantive merit.
- DCIP – Defence for Children International Palestine is linked to the PFLP and has been exploiting false allegations regarding children for many years. Three of the authors of this report have been employed by DCIP. https://www.ngo-monitor.org/ngos/defence_for_children_international_palestine_section/
- For the purposes of reporting to the UN, a sixth grave violation, “denial of humanitarian access for children,” is also monitored.