Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Israeli settlement farmers in the occupied West Bank are using Palestinian child laborers in dangerous conditions in violation of international laws.
The New York-based group said in a report released on Monday that Palestinian children as young as 11 years old work on Israeli settlement farms to grow, harvest and pack agricultural produce, adding that most of the harvested crop is later exported to Europe and the United States.
“Israel’s settlements are profiting from rights abuses against Palestinian children,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the Human Rights Watch’s Middle East director.
According to the report, there are hundreds of children working in Israeli agricultural settlements year-round, and the number rises during harvest times.
The rights group said “children from communities impoverished by Israel’s discrimination and settlement policies” are leaving school and taking on dangerous work on the settlement farms as they felt they had no alternative to help support their families.
The report said that, in a number of cases, the child workers “have to pay themselves for medical treatment for work-related injuries or illness.”
HRW condemned the Israeli practice of using child laborers, saying the move is in violation of international laws, which protect children from “being exploited economically and performing work that is likely to be hazardous or interfere with the child’s schooling.”
The rights group called on Israel to dismantle the settlements on occupied Palestinian lands, and, in the meantime, “prohibit settlers from employing children in accordance with Israel’s obligations under international treaties on children’s rights and labor rights.”
Some 500,000 Israelis have settled in the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem), among 2.4 million Palestinians.
By Press TV