UN to Israel ‘Stop Violating Palestinian Child Detainees Human Rights’

Human Wrongs Watch

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories condemned Israel’s use of solitary confinement against Palestinian children, and urged the Israeli Government to treat such detainees in accordance with international human rights laws.

Israeli soldier arresting 12 year-old Palestinian child at Nablus checkpoint | Credit:United Nations

“Israel’s use of solitary confinement against children flagrantly violates international human rights standards,” the Special Rapporteur Richard Falk said in a news release.
“However, using solitary confinement as a punishment for Palestinian children who wish to peacefully protest their situation, including by commencing a hunger strike against conditions of detention, is an appalling abuse of child prisoners,” he added.
“I again condemn Israel’s harsh arrest operations and procedures.”
Falk’s comments came in the wake of earlier concerns on the issue, raised today by the UN Special Committee on Israeli practices in the Occupied Territories, at the end of a fact-finding mission to Jordan, Egypt and the Gaza Strip.“
Solitary Confinement
According to testimony received, Israel uses solitary confinement against 12 per cent of Palestinian child detainees,” the Special Committee’s Chairperson, Ambassador Palitha T.B. Kohona of Sri Lanka, said in a news release.
“This is especially troubling when one considers that Israel arrests about 500 to 700 Palestinian children every year.”The Special Committee also warned that a pattern of detaining and mistreating children “links to broader, longstanding concerns regarding Israel detention of Palestinians generally.”
“Children Tightly Bound, Blindfolded and Forced into the Backs of Military Vehicles”
“Witnesses informed the Committee that mistreatment of Palestinian children starts from the moment of detention,” Kohona said.
“Large numbers are routinely detained. Children’s homes are surrounded by Israeli soldiers late at night, sound grenades are fired into the houses, doors are broken down, live shots are often fired; no warrant is presented. Children are tightly bound, blindfolded and forced into the backs of military vehicles.”
“Insulted, Intimidated and at Times Physically Assaulted”
The Special Committee head said that parents are not allowed to accompany the detainees, and that family members are insulted, intimidated and at times physically assaulted.
According to witnesses, the detention and transfer of children can last for hours, and can often include stops in Israeli settlements, Israeli checkpoints and police or military bases.
Grave Abuse
“This pattern of abuse by Israel is grave,” said Special Rapporteur Falk. “It is inhumane, cruel, degrading, and unlawful, and, most worryingly, it is likely to adversely affect the mental and physical health of underage detainees.”
The Special Rapporteur appealed to the Government of Israel to take urgent steps to bring their treatment of Palestinian children detainees into line with international human rights laws, in particular the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have.
In its preliminary observations in the wake of its fact-finding mission, the Special Committee drew attention to two further areas of immediate concern in the West bank, including East Jerusalem: the Israeli practice of demolishing Palestinian homes, and violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians.The Special Committee also assessed the economic impact of the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Mass Imprisonment; Routine Demolition of Homes, Displacement…
“These Israeli practices lead the Special Committee to one over-arching and deeply troubling conclusion,” Kohona said.“The mass imprisonment of Palestinians; the routine demolition of homes and the displacement of Palestinians; the widespread violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians; and the blockade and resultant reliance on illegal smuggling to survive; these practices amount to a strategy to either force the Palestinian people off their land or so severely marginalize them as to establish and maintain a system of permanent oppression.”
The Special Committee will present a mission report to the UN General Assembly in November, with its observations and recommendations to improve the human rights situation.Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not United Nations staff, nor are they paid for their work.
UN to Israel: “End Human Rights Violations”
On 18 June, a three-member United Nations called for an end to human rights violations by Israel in the occupied territories of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Syrian Golan Heights, after hearing from dozens of witnesses during a recent visit to the region, the UN informed.

“The testimonies that we have heard attest to a failure to address the long-standing pattern of serious violations of human rights,” said Ambassador Palitha Kohona of Sri Lanka, who serves as Chairman of the UN Special Committee on Israeli Practices in the Occupied Territories.

Systematic Restrictions of Human Rights, Basic Freedoms

“Victims of the systematic and often arbitrary restrictions on human rights and basic freedoms have the right to see justice prevail,” he added. “Violations must cease.”

Kohona’s comments came at the end of a 13-day fact-finding visit to Cairo, Amman and Damascus, during which the Committee heard from witnesses from across the occupied Palestinian territory and the occupied Syrian Golan, recounting their first-hand experiences of life under occupation.

Witnesses from Gaza stressed the urgency to put an end to the deliberate assaults on the civilian population, according to a news release issued in Damascus.

Forced Displacement, Settler Violence, Home Demolitions, Evictions…

They spoke about not being able to reconstruct homes and schools destroyed during Israel’s 2009 military offensive, due to the three-year-old blockade imposed against Gaza, as well as the alarming situation of the water and sanitation systems, which has serious implications for the health of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents.

Testimonies from the West Bank highlighted issues of forced displacement, settler violence, home demolitions and evictions, notably in East Jerusalem, and the targeting of peaceful activists.

Restricted Access to Education, Health and Water Resources

The Committee also heard about discriminatory policies relating to, among others, the continuing violations of the right to freedom of movement resulting from the Gaza blockade, the separation barrier, checkpoints, roadblocks and other physical obstacles; restricted access to education, health and water resources; and the treatment of prisoners, including over 300 children, held in Israeli jails.

Regarding the occupied Syrian Golan, testimonies highlighted settlement building and problems in the fields of education and health, which witnesses and officials said were aimed at altering the Syrian Arab identity of the population under occupation.


The Committee also heard about an unequal and discriminatory distribution of water between Israeli settlers and Syrian inhabitants, as well as the ongoing threat resulting from Israel’s failure to clear landmines in the area, and the ill-treatment of prisoners from the Golan held in Israeli jails.

Members of the Committee, which also include Ambassador Hamidon Ali of Malaysia and Momar Gueye from the Permanent Mission of Senegal to the UN in Geneva, also met with the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, and with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, during their visit.

The Committee will present its report to the General Assembly, which set up the body in 1968, in November with its observations and recommendations to improve the human rights situation for those living under the occupation.

*Israeli soldier arresting 12 year-old Palestinian child at Nablus checkpoint | Credit:United Nations

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