Israeli Abuses of Palestinian Children
The occupying Israeli authorities sustain a protracted war of oppression, brutality and submission on Palestinian children.
Killing and maiming children
In 2018, Israeli forces killed 56 children. Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli army snipers, drones and security forces across the occupied Palestinian territories. Five of the murdered children were under 12 years of age. In Gaza, 49 children were murdered by Israel in activities pertaining to the Great March of Return protests.
More than 29,000 Palestinians were injured during 2018 – the highest number of injuries in a single year since the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs began collecting data in 2005. Nearly 60 of those Palestinians killed and 2,7,00 of those injured were children. This trend of a sustained war on children is continuing in 2019.
In July 2019, 10-year-old Palestinian child, Abdul Rahman Yaser Shtewi was shot in the head, at point blank range, with a live bullet and underwent surgery at Rafidia Hospital, Nablus where they removed over 100 shrapnel fragments from his brain.
Israel denies using live bullets, but the fragments removed from the child’ head, the shells on the streets of Kufr Qaddum and eyewitness accounts point to the use of lethal so called ‘butterfly bullets’ designed to explode with the body.
Also in July, a 14 yr old oy was shot by an Israeli soldier when he went to retrieve a football near the Apartheid/Separation wall near Al Khader village in the West Bank. 14-year-old Mahmoud Salah subsequently had his leg amputated as a result of the shooting.
Between 500 and 700 Palestinian children are arrested, interrogated and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system each year. At the end of July 2019, 210 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli prisons as security detainees and prisoners, including one under the age of 14. Another 4 Palestinian minors were held in Israel Prison Service facilities for being in Israel illegally. The IPS considers these minors – both detainees and prisoners – criminal offenders.
Since 2000 approximately 12,000 Palestinian children have been prosecuted in the Israeli military court system.
- These children are aged between 12 – 17 years old. The vast majority are prosecuted for allegedly throwing stones.
- • It is reported that 95% of these children are subjected to torture and inhumane treatment whilst in military custody. This treatment includes beatings, intimidation, being shackled in irons, sleep deprivation, and being denied food, water and access to toilet facilities. 70% of detained children are strip searched.
- Children detained are routinely denied access to legal counsel and advice, denied the right to have a parent present during interrogation and forced to sign confessions written in Hebrew – a language they don’t understand.
- When sentenced these Palestinian children are then transferred from occupied territory to prisons inside Israel with the deliberate consequence that they will have little or no contact with parents and families. There are currently over 200 children serving sentences in Israeli jails, leading to concerns for their physical and psychological welfare.
- The age of the child at sentencing is taken into account and not their age when the alleged offence occurred.
Children in Military Courts
Israel is the only country in the world that automatically prosecutes children using military courts. These military courts deny Palestinian children the most basic human and legal rights e.g. access to legal counsel, advice and legal representation. They have a self reported conviction rate of 99.74%.
Upon arrest and during interrogation, children as young as 12 years old are held in solitary confinement and denied solicitors, access to parents and basic rights such as food, water and access to the bathroom. The Israeli military detention system has developed a notoriety for its systematic torture, inhumane maltreatment and psychological abuse of defenceless and innocent Palestinian children. It is estimated that Palestinian children make up 45.8 % of the Palestinian population.
It is evident that the occupying Israeli authorities are now waging a concerted and targeted war of oppression, brutality and submission upon the children of Palestine. The Israeli state is deliberately trying to criminalise and terrorise Palestinian children. Heavily armed Israeli soldiers routinely arrest children in the street. These children are then held in headlocks, shackled and frog marched to the local military detention centre – where military court prosecutions follow.
On the 29th July, Israeli soldiers stormed the home of Mohammad Rabi Elayan in East Jerusalem. He is 4yrs old. They came to arrest him for alleged stone throwing. Residents of the area prevented the arrest but the toddler had to appear at the military police station the next day, with his father, to address the charges. The following day, 6yr old Qais Obaid from Esaweyah Town also received a summons, accused of throwing a juice box at soldiers. A few days later, Israeli soldiers stormed the Palestinian home of Shadi Seder in Alkhalil City (Hebron) to serve a summons on a 6 year old girl, Malak, accusing her of 'threatening behaviour' toward Israeli military personel. Targeting very small children in certain areas, Hebron and East Jerusalem , where Israel would like to 'clear' the indigenous population, seems to be part of a systematic plan whereby Israel terrorises Palestinian children to exercise extreme pressure on families.
Israeli children living in illegal settlements in the West Bank who are charged with offences are subject to a juvenile Israeli civilian and a criminal legal system while Palestinian children in the same geographic area are charged under military courts leading to calls for an end to this apartheid system. In Feb 2017, there were 224 4 children held under Administrative Detention or Internment without trial, a practice which can lead to incarceration for long periods of time without any charges being brought.
The Israeli state policy of terrorising innocent children should be challenged by every civilised society who claim to uphold human and civil rights. Palestinian children are being psychologically traumatised and mentally scarred by this protracted Israeli war on children.
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Ironically, Israel is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The blatant disregard for the rights of Palestinian children by Israel, its policy of torture and abuse of Palestinian children must be exposed and challenged.
Articles, analysis and reports on the Israeli abuse of Palestinian children
A decade of distress: Save the Children
Most Palestinian Minors Arrested by Israel Claim Physical Violence During Detention (Haaretz, Israeli, Paywall)
New push to stop US funding torture of Palestinian children
Military Detention of Palestinian Children
Israel Tortures Palestinian Children, Amnesty Report Says (Haaretz, Israeli, Paywall)
60% of Palestine children arrested by Israel tortured
Children in Israeli Military detention: UNICEF
Israel's military detention of Palestinian children
No Way to Treat a Child, Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system
Palestinian Child Prisoners
Israel fined Palestinian child prisoners $13,000 in September
Military detention of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities: War on Want
UN rights chief calls on Israel to release Palestinian children held in administrative detention
Palestinian children need better protection in Israeli military detention: UNICEF
Israeli ill-treatment of detained Palestinian minors must end: Amnesty International