By Elham Asaad Buaras
Israeli violations against detained Palestinian children are ongoing, despite reassurances by the Israeli Government to address some of the issues of concern outlined in the UN’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report that was released back in March of this year.
UNICEF said that in spite of its earlier report which exposed systematic mistreatment, violations against detained children are still ongoing.
UNICEF’s March report, entitled Children in Israeli Military Detention said Israel was the only country in the world where children were systematically tried in military courts and gave evidence of practices it said were “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”
“Ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalised,” it concluded, outlining 38 recommendations.
The report hoped that Israel would treat the children within international law.
It said that Israel is “testing some of the reformed measures” used to deal with detained children.
This includes calling children for integration instead of raiding their homes late at night, especially since night invasions include violence and loud noises that can traumatise the children, and their families.
The UNICEF said that heavily armed soldiers would violently break into homes, before they force the children out of their beds, and take them to interrogation facilities, cuffed, blindfolded, and in a state of extreme fear.
It is said that Israeli interrogators would question the children about allegations of throwing stones at soldiers and illegal settlers, and that the interrogators would threaten the children with violence, death, in addition to sexual assault threats not only against the children, but also against a family member.
The second issue that Israel appears to have complied with, according to the report, is reducing the time detained children are imprisoned before they are sent to a military court for the first time.
Israel now allegedly detains children, aged 12 to 13, for 24 hours instead of four days, while children 14 to15 years of age are now detained for two days before being sent to court comparing to four days as per previous measures. Yet, Israel did not change detention measures for children aged 16 to17.
The UNICEF said that Israel conducted 19 violations against detained Palestinian children in the second quarter of 2013. It added that in all documented cases, detained children were subject to physical violence, including beating, kicking and slapping
Seventeen more violations were recorded in the same period, those violations did not include any reported physical violence, but the children were verbally abused.
The UNICEF states that it is working closely with the Israeli Prosecutor General to ensure the implementation of the 38 recommendation, mentioned in the March report, in order to improve the protection of children in accordance with international standards.
It said that some of these recommendations included preventing the soldiers form blindfolding detained children, strip search, torture, and solitary confinement.
The UNICEF further states that children should never be taking prisoner at night, unless under very urgent conditions, and stressed that a lawyer or a family member must be present during interrogation, and that the interrogation must be videotaped.
Israeli soldiers kidnapped, interrogated and prosecuted more than 7,000 Palestinian children over the last ten years.
The UNICEF reportes that Israel kidnaps nearly 700 Palestinian children, aged 12 – 17, mostly males, each year.