Newsletter - September 2017
Detention figures delayed
The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) continues to experience difficulties in providing accurate and timely information regarding the number of Palestinian children in its detention facilities in accordance with an outstanding Freedom of Information application (FOI application). Although the IPS has not provided accurate statistics since May 2017, it did provide some information to Ha'aretz Newspaper in August 2017, informing the paper that there were approximately 195 Palestinian children in detention. However, when Ha'aretz requested further details it was told to file an FOI application - the same procedure the IPS appears unable to respond to in a timely manner. In accordance with the FOI application, the IPS reports that as of 31 May 2017 there were 331 Palestinian children (12-17 years) held as "security prisoners" in its facilities, of which 74 percent were detained inside Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
More statistics >>
Use of hand restraints
As of October 2017, 92 percent of children continue to report being hand-tied upon arrest generally with plastic zip ties behind the back often described as “painful” or “very tight and painful”. This compares with 94 percent in 2016. Some children report that they remained tied during interrogation and all children continue to be shackled by the ankles during military court appearances. In 64 percent of cases the evidence indicates non-compliance with the military's own standard operating procedures for the use of hand restraints introduced in 2010 following High Court intervention. The 2010 regulations require, inter alia, hands to be restrained to the front with three hand ties avoiding "suffering as much as possible". In 2013 UNICEF recommended [pdf] that children should only be "restrained for the time that is strictly necessary without unnecessary pain or suffering".
Comparative Graph: evidence update
Based on 60 testimonies collected from children detained by the Israeli military in the West Bank in 2017, the situation remains largely unchanged compared with 2016. More than half of the children (60%) report being arrested at night while the use of summonses in lieu of night arrests was recorded in 7% of cases. The overwhelming majority of children continue to report being hand-tied (92%) and blindfolded (77%) while 62% of children also report experiencing some form of physical abuse during arrest, transfer and/or interrogation. On arrival at an interrogation centre, 81% of children report not being informed of their right to silence and 76% report being denied access to a lawyer prior to interrogation in accordance with Israeli military law. In 95% of cases children are not accompanied by a parent during interrogation.
Comparative Graph - Issues of Concern >>
UNICEF: No child detention bulletins for more than 2 years
In March 2013, UNICEF published the report - Children in Israeli Military Detention [pdf] - which concluded that "the ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process". Following the release of the report Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced that it would study the UN agency's conclusions and "work to implement them through ongoing co-operation with UNICEF." The MOFA delegated this task to the IDF's then Chief West Bank Prosecutor, Lt. Col. (res) Maurice Hirsch, a resident of a West Bank settlement. In 2013 and 2015, UNICEF published two updates (Bulletin No. 1 [pdf] and Bulletin No. 2 [pdf]) listing progress made following its co-operation with the military authorities but acknowledged that "reports of alleged ill-treatment of children during arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention have not significantly decreased in 2013 and 2014. While UNICEF has not published any further bulletins since February 2015, Hirsch has now retired as a military prosecutor and participates in international advocacy tours with the right-wing Israeli organisation, NGO Monitor.
B'Tselem: There's no beautifying Israel's treatment of Palestinian children
The central problem at the heart of Israel's half-century old military court system is clear: these courts will never reflect the interests of the defendants, but rather that of the regime of occupation. Israeli occupation apologists masquerading as protectors of Palestinian children in military detention? Few displays of alternative facts should shock us these days, but somehow an upcoming event by the Israeli right-wing group NGO Monitor’s at the UN Palais De Nations in Geneva comes close. Under the Orwellian title “Protecting Children: The realities of Israeli Military Juvenile Justice in a Terror Environment,” the event planned for Sept 25th features such doyens of child protection as the former IDF Chief West Bank Prosecutor, Lt. Col. (Res) Maurice Hirsch.
Read more >>
A child's testimony
On 11 August 2017, a 15-year-old youth from Beit Ummar was detained by Israeli soldiers at 4:30 p.m. on land belonging to the village close to the settlement of Karmi Zur. He was released without charge 10 hours later. "I was on village land opposite the settlement of Karmi Zur with my friends at around 4:30 p.m. There were no clashes with Israeli soldiers at the time. Two soldiers suddenly appeared behind us. I was terrified when I saw them but I did not to run away. The soldiers immediately stopped us. The soldiers started to question me in Hebrew and some Arabic but I did not understand what they were saying. The soldiers then checked my hands and took my mobile phone. Then they led me on foot towards the settlement.
Read more >>
A soldier's video testimony: "Demonstration of presence"
In this video a former Israeli soldier provides a testimony to Breaking the Silence about taking over a water tower in a Palestinian village in the West Bank for several weeks in order to "demonstrate presence". "One of the objectives of the squads was to demonstrate a presence. That's something you have to do without any specific intention, you just have to show everyone that we're always there, to plant some misunderstanding ... So we got there one night, climbed the water tower ... and on the roof we put up a mini-post, with an awning and camouflage nets. We took weapons up there, heavy weapons and we settled in as a squad ... everyone saw us there, we put up an Israeli flag ... Every once in a while to break our routine ... we'd throw down stun grenades.
Watch video >>
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