2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - West Bank and Gaza Strip (Occupied Territories Subject to the Jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority)

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor3785
Working children, 5-14 years (%):
Working boys, 5-14 years (%):
Working girls, 5-14 years (%):
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:15
Compulsory education age:16
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%):
Net primary enrollment rate (%):
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%):
Survival rate to grade 5 (%):
ILO-IPEC participating country:Associated

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Many children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip work on family farms, in family shops, as street vendors, or in small manufacturing enterprises.3786 There have been reports of Palestinian terrorist groups using minors to assist in attacks, smuggle weapons, and act as human shields. Palestinian children working in Israeli settlements face problems concerning security, exploitation, and harassment.3787

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for work in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is 15 according to the Palestinian Authority (PA) Labor Law. There are restrictions on the employment of children between the ages of 15 and 18.3788 The restrictions include prohibitions against night work, work under conditions of hard labor, or jobs that require them to travel outside their domicile. Children between the age of 15 and 18 must be cleared by a medical exam before beginning work, and are to receive a check up every 6 months thereafter.3789 Exceptions are made for those children between the ages of 15 and 18 who work for their direct relatives and under their supervision. However, according to USDOS the enforcement of such laws has been uneven, given the increased levels of Palestinian unemployment and lack of PA resources.3790

The law prohibits the exploitation of children, and states that children shall not be allowed to perform work that might damage their safety, health, or education. The law states that the PA will strive to provide work to anyone who is capable of performing it, and that work is a right, duty, and honor.3791 Labor Ministry officials have said that this law prohibits forced and compulsory labor. There is no law specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons.3792 Prostitution is illegal. The law also requires investigations into allegations of recruiting and exploiting children in armed operations, and those responsible for such activities are to be tried in a court of law.3793 The Ministry of Labor has seven child labor inspectors. According to a Labor Ministry official an additional 20 labor inspectors are needed to ensure the enforcement of child labor laws. Since 2003, the PA has convicted 10 people in child labor cases, resulting in prison sentences for two individuals.3794

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Research has not identified any policies or programs by the PA to address exploitive child labor.

3785 For statistical data not cited here, see the Data Sources and Definitions section. For data on ratifications and ILO-IPEC membership, see the Executive Summary. For minimum age for admission to work, age to which education is compulsory, and free public education, see U.S Embassy – Jerusalem, reporting, December 7, 2007. See also UNESCO International Bureau of Education, Palestinian Authority Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programmes, Geneva, 2006; available from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001472/147223e.pdf.

3786 U.S Embassy – Jerusalem, reporting, December 7, 2007. See also US Department of State, "Israel and the Occupied Territories," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100597.htm.

3787 US Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Israel and the Occupied Terrritories," section 6d.

3788 U.S Embassy – Jerusalem, reporting, December 7, 2007.

3789 Ibid.

3790 Ibid.

3791 Ibid.

3792 Ibid.

3793 Ibid.

3794 Ibid.


This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.