A United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) report released on Wednesday alleges that Palestinian children detained by the IDF are subject to widespread, systematic ill-treatment that violates international law, Reuters reports.
The report estimated that 700 children aged 12-17, most of them boys, are arrested and interrogated by the IDF, police and security forces every year in Judea and Samaria.
According to UNICEF, it has documented “examples of practices that amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture.”
Israeli sources have declined to comment on the findings at the moment. The UNICEF report states that it is based on more than 400 cases since 2009, legal papers, reports by governmental and non-governmental groups, and interviews with Palestinian minors, and Israeli and Palestinian officials and attorneys.
Is not clear at this point how much of the information in the damning report was presented to Israeli authorities for a response prior to publication. This will be clarified by Israel when it offers its official comments on the UNICEF accusations.
According to the report, the ill-treatment of Palestinian minors often begins with an arrest in the middle of the night, and continues through prosecution and sentencing.
“The pattern of ill-treatment includes … the practice of blindfolding children and tying their hands with plastic ties, physical and verbal abuse during transfer to an interrogation site, including the use of painful restraints,” the report says.
During their interrogation, the minors, who are arrested for throwing stones, suffer physical violence and threats, are coerced into confessions and do not have immediate access to a lawyer or family during questioning, the report alleges, adding that this practice “appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.”
“Treatment inconsistent with child rights continues during court appearances, including shackling of children, denial of bail and imposition of custodial sentences and transfer of children outside occupied Palestinian territory to serve their sentences inside Israel,” the report said.
On the positive side, the UNICEF report cites “positive changes” in Israel’s treatment of Palestinian minors, including new hand-tying procedures that prevent pain and injury.
Also, a military order issued in 2010 requires Israeli police to notify parents about the arrest of their children and to inform children that they have the right to an attorney.