Violence against Palestinian child detainees on rise
There are currently 164 Palestinian children under Israeli detention (AFP/File)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The first six months of 2015 saw a 10 percent increase in physical violence against Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, an international children’s rights groups said Saturday.
Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP) said in a statement that “86 percent of Palestinian children experienced some form of physical violence during their arrest or interrogation, a 10 percent increase from 2014.”
“Ill treatment of Palestinian children remains widespread and systematic in the Israeli military detention system as children arrested by Israeli forces arrive at Israeli interrogation centers blindfolded, bound and sleep deprived,” the statement said.
Nearly all children interviewed by DCIP had been blindfolded and their hands bound, while almost 55 percent underwent strip-searches in custody.
“Unlike their Israeli counterparts, Palestinian children have no right to be accompanied by a parent and, in the majority of cases, no access to legal counsel during interrogation,” DCIP reported.
Cases like these are documented frequently by local and international media.
Earlier this week, Israeli forces detained and interrogated an eight-year-old Palestinian boy for an hour and a half. His mother was barred from accompanying the boy in the police car or the interrogation room.
He was only released to his mother after she signed paperwork stating he was not assaulted and that he was only interrogated for ten minutes.
DCIP said that children frequently report signing documents drafted in Hebrew, a language they do not understand, while four children were reported to have been put in solitary confinement for interrogation purposes, “a practice that amounts to torture under international law.”
“For over a decade, ill treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system has been widespread and systematic,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, a director at DCIP.
“Recent amendments to Israeli military law simply serve to improve the appearance of the military detention system and have failed to practically address the abuse of Palestinian children.”
Since 2013, the Israeli authorities say they have taken steps to reinforce existing military and police operating procedures related to the detention of Palestinian children.
However, UNICEF issued a report in March that showed Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces were continuing to suffer ill treatment.
Lawmakers in both the US and UK have recently called on their governments to hold Israel accountable for its treatment of Palestinian child prisoners.
In the US, 19 members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on June 18 urging him to prioritize the issue of Palestinian child detainees in Israeli military detention, noting “Israel’s military detention system targeting children is an anomaly in the world.”
According to DCIP, around 500 to 700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12, are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system each year.
The majority of Palestinian child detainees are charged with throwing stones, a crime that is punishable under Israeli law for up to 20 years in prison.
“International juvenile justice standards, which Israel has obliged itself to implement by signing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, demand that children should only be deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort,” DCIP added.
“Israel is the only country in the world that automatically prosecutes children in military courts that lack basic and fundamental fair trial guarantees.”
There are currently 164 Palestinian children under Israeli detention, according to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer
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