Detention and Harassment of Children
On Friday, at around 3pm, two boys were detained by Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian controlled H1 area, and were forced into the small terminal comprising Checkpoint 56. The boys were aged around 9 and 11. They were held inside the sealed cabin with several soldiers for half an hour, with observers being denied access, despite repeated attempts made to ensure that the detainees were not being mistreated. The detainees were eventually removed from the checkpoint into a waiting army jeep. Soldiers stated that they would be taken to the police station.
The mistreatment of Palestinian children continues even following UNICEF’s recent report raising grave concerns about Palestinian children arrested by Israel; finding that ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading’ treatment was systematic.
Most Palestinian children are arrested for the ‘crime’ of throwing stones at heavily armed soldiers. Figures suggest that around 700 children aged 12-17 are arrested each year in the West Bank. The process of arrests typically begins with a midnight raid on the children’s family homes, followed by what Palestinians view as the ‘kidnapping’ of the children. The soldiers are heavily armed and minor and serious injury to other family members is an unacceptable norm in the process.
Children are taken away, sometimes blindfolded and hand-cuffed. Upon arrival at interrogation centres, they face serious abuses of due process, including physical violence, threats, and obstruction of access to family and lawyers.
The report damningly found that such treatment appears to be ‘institutionalised’ and is widespread and systematic. “We should view Palestinian children as we view our own – and consider whether we would accept such shameful treatment of children here in Britain. The answer is a resounding ‘no’ and as Israel continues to call itself a democracy on par with Europe, it has a serious case to answer,” said Ismail Patel.
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