Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Israeli Treatment of Palestinian Minors
By Graham Peebles
PIC, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, April 9, 2012
Graham Peebles highlights Israel’s systematic, barbarous practices
against Palestinian children – practices that are carried out in violation
of international law and obligations Israel had signed up to – and calls on
the United Nations to “stand in the face of injustice, violence and hate to
safeguard the lives of the innocent, the oppressed the defenceless” in the
occupied Palestinian territories.
They shoot children, don’t they?
For many Palestinian children
their childhood is lived under a cloak of fear and the threat of violence
and abuse at the hands of an armed force that stalks the streets of their
In the 11 years since
the year 2000, Israeli forces have killed 1,471 children in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip, the bulk of whom were aged between 13 and 17 years. The
children of Gaza have been and continue to be at greatest risk, with almost
a thousand murdered in the last 12 years. Most are shot randomly and
indiscriminately, or killed as a result of Israeli air and ground attacks.
Around 50 were taken prematurely from their families by unexploded ordnance.
“Fresh in the children’s young memories lie the echo of
that horrendous time, the constant bombardment, the loss of
loved ones and the shootings.”
The most recent atrocities against the people of Gaza began on Friday 9
March and resulted in the killing of 25 Palestinians, and come on the back
of the massacre that took place in December 2008/January 2009, when a total
of 1,417 Palestinians were murdered, of whom 318 were children and 116
women. Fresh in the children’s young memories lie the echo of that
horrendous time, the constant bombardment, the loss of loved ones and the
shootings. Besides the deaths, around 1,000 children were injured in the
three-week assault, and many children were left with severe physical
disabilities and deep psychological wounds. The mental and emotional effects
are more difficult to see and/or to treat than broken bones and scared
The Gaza Community Health Programme estimates that “half Gaza's children
– around 350,000 – will develop some form of post-traumatic stress
disorder”. This is staggering but unsurprising, and the attacks this March
on unarmed civilians will serve to intensify the mental suffering and
anguish that these children are living with.
Intimidation and torture
Children make up around
45 per cent of the four million or so total Palestinian population, a fact
that terrifies an ageing Israel. And what impact does living under the
brutal Israeli occupation have on them? Would they be inclined towards peace
and brotherhood? Is tolerance fostered in their hearts and minds through the
Israeli occupation, or are the seeds of hate and the desire for revenge
being carefully sown?
The violence we see begets not harmony, but
further violence. One of the authors of the UN's Goldstone Report, Colonel
Desmond Travers, cited a psychiatrist in Gaza as saying: "We already see in
our schools in Gaza the next generation of Hamas revolutionaries, children
exposed to so much violence they have no option but to terminate their
childhood and move into a different frame, and the likelihood is that they
will never stabilize." In order to justify the unjustifiable and the unjust,
Israel needs to instil hate into another generation of Palestinians – to
maintain their position as the “enemy within”, thereby excusing, in some
perverted distortion of the facts, its continued aggression, violence and
violation of international laws, too many to count.
Palestinian children living in
the West Bank and the Gaza Strip under the illegal Israeli occupation are
subjected to brutal treatment and illegal imprisonment, torture and
intimidation by the Israeli security forces. According to a
report by Defence for Children International (DCI), “a pattern of
systematic ill-treatment emerges, much of which amounts to cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment, as defined in the UN Convention against
Torture, and in some cases, torture – both of which are absolutely
Since 1967, “around 7,500 children, some as young as 12
years, are estimated to have been detained, interrogated and
imprisoned [by Israel]. This averages out at between 500-700
children per year, or nearly two children, each and every
Defence for Children International
Since 1967 Palestinian children and adults have been subjected to Israeli
military law, a legal system based on prejudice and short on justice. During
this period 726,000 Palestinians have been arrested and detained. The
numbers of children arrested and taken from their homes is shocking.
According to DCI, in the past 11 years alone “around 7,500 children, some as
young as 12 years, are estimated to have been detained, interrogated and
imprisoned within this system. This averages out at between 500-700 children
per year, or nearly two children each and every day.”
Almost a quarter of all children arrested are held in solitary
confinement. Children, mainly boys, aged from 12 to 17 years are forcefully
taken from their families, often at night, imprisoned, beaten and tortured,
intimidated and on occasion subjected to electric shocks. Most children are
detained for the terrible crime of throwing stones at soldiers armed with
M16 rifles and tear gas.
The Israeli human rights group
B’Tselem described the
ordeal of one boy, Yahia, aged 15 years. Together with four of his friends,
Yahia was arrested and taken to the illegal Israeli settlement of Zuffin.
They had their “hands tied behind their backs, they were blindfolded, before
being forced to kneel on the ground for several hours”. The boys were then
taken to a police station and interrogated.
The interrogator grabbed the
boy’s head and slammed it against the wall, slapping him twice. A short
time later he returned holding a small electric shock device [Taser].
“He placed the device on my body and I felt a great powerful shock and
my body started shivering. I couldn’t feel my arms or legs and I felt
extreme pain in my head. I felt I was going to be paralysed, so I
decided to confess.”
The process of arrests, intimidation and violence is common practice by
the Israeli occupation authorities. The kneeling on the ground, the
isolation and the use of hand ties and blindfolds are also used extensively
In 2010 the UN documented 90 cases of “ill
treatment” of Palestinian children in Israeli detention, of which 75 had
their hands tied behind their backs and were also blindfolded. Almost a
third of the children were under 15 years of age. Of the 90 detained, “62
children reported being beaten, 35 children reported position abuse and 16
children were kept in solitary confinement. In three cases, children
reported the use of electric shocks on their bodies. Particularly concerning
was the fact that there was an increase in documented cases of sexual
All of this contravenes international law and conventions
signed and ratified by Israel – and the democratic principles Israel so
loudly proclaims. According to Mark Regev, the chief Israeli purveyor of
propaganda and deceit and spokesman for Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu
said in the Guardian, newspaper: “The test of a democracy is how
you treat people incarcerated, people in jail, and especially so with
minors.” This is a democracy damned by words of duplicity.
to the Guardian, when in Israeli custody Palestinian children’s
rights are ignored and they are verbally insulted. "You're a dog” and “son
of a whore” are among the commonest insults. Many are exhausted from sleep
deprivation. Day after day they are fettered to the chair, then returned to
solitary confinement. Eventually, the majority of children sign confessions
that they later say were coerced. Among the typical accusations which the
Israelis claim “justify” these illegal detentions are throwing stones, or
occasionally Molotov cocktails, at soldiers or settlers – both of whom, let
us remember, are illegally present on Palestinian land.
“It is the duty of the international community, acting in
unity and led by the UN, to stand and act to protect the
lives of the innocent men, women and children of Palestine,
lifting the shadow of constant fear, intimidation and
aggression from their lives.”
In most cases children are held inside Israel itself, which restricts
access to legal support and excludes family members from visiting and
supporting them. Holding children in prisons inside Israel is in violation
of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits such
transfers. This process of arrests, detention and torture operating inside
Israel and outside international and national law offers the victims no
legal recourse. According to DCI, “there is a general absence of effective
Legally binding, illegally bound
The Israeli judicial
system, as it currently pertains to Palestinian children, allows illegal
practices to take place within settlements and Israeli prisons.
International law on the rights of the child, to which Israel is bound, is
clear and extensive.
Graham Peebles is Director of the
a UK registered charity supporting fundamental social change and the
human rights of individuals in acute need.
B’Tselem says “Israel signed the Convention on
the Rights of the Child in July 1990 and ratified it in August 1991”.
According to DCI, all international treatise and conventions signed by
Israel safeguard children in conflict but Israel ignores them all. “These
treaties relevantly provide that, in all actions concerning children, their
best interests shall be a primary consideration.”
Urgent action is
required to safeguard the children of Palestine and protect them from the
tyranny that is Israeli policy in the occupied territories. The actions of
Israel in these territories are vile, murderous, calculated and illegal.
It is the duty of the international community, acting in unity and led
by the UN, to stand and act to protect the lives of the innocent men, women
and children of Palestine, lifting the shadow of constant fear, intimidation
and aggression from their lives. Humanity is one. Together we must stand in
the face of injustice, violence and hate to safeguard the lives of the
innocent, the oppressed the defenceless.