RAMALLAH, June 28, 2012 (WAFA) – The Palestinian Government Thursday welcomed a report by a team of British lawyers on Israel’s treatment of Palestinian minors and said the report exposes Israel’s inhumane treatment of children in total violation of international law.
A team of nine independent and prominent British lawyers, including a former attorney general, interviewed several Israeli and Palestinian officials, members of the civil society and children during a fact-finding mission to the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Territory in September to assess treatment of Palestinian children under military law.
“The objective of the group was to produce an independent report founded on the principles of the rule of law and children’s rights,” said an introduction to the report titled “Children in Military Custody,” which was published on Tuesday.
The report charged that “two different systems of law are applied by Israel depending on the nationality of the accused,” a civilian law for Israelis and a military one for Palestinians.
It said, based on data it received from Defense of Children International, that between 500-700 Palestinian children come into contact with the military justice system in the West Bank every year, while no Israeli child does.
“Within Israel and the West Bank the two legal systems in operation are different. Israeli citizens, including the settler population in the West Bank, are subject to Israeli civilian and criminal law and Palestinians in the West Bank are subject to Israeli military law,” it said.
The report concluded that Israel was in breach of several articles in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), to which Israel is a signatory.
It said Israel breached article 2 on discrimination, article 3 on child’s best interests, article 37 (a) regarding prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, 37 (b) on premature resort to detention, 37 (c) on non-separation from adults, 37 (d) on prompt access to lawyers, and 40 on use of shackles.
It said also that transportation of child prisoners into Israel is in breach of article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and failure to translate Military Order 1676 from Hebrew is a violation of article 65 of the same convention.
The team, whose mission was funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said that “to hold children routinely and for substantial periods in solitary confinement would, if it occurred, be capable of amounting to torture in breach not only of article 37(a) but also of other well-known international instruments.”
Ghassan Khatib, head of the Government Media Center, said in a statement that this report “exposes the serious Israeli violations against children held in military custody, which demands immediate intervention to bring them to a stop.”
He cited specifically reports about children being arrested in the middle of the night from their beds in a very inhumane way.
According to the report and based on testimonies from human rights organizations and the children themselves, “those who have been identified as offenders or suspects are arrested by soldiers, usually in nighttime raids on their homes are blindfolded, and, with their wrists painfully bound behind them, are then transported to interrogation centers, sometimes face-down on the floor of military vehicles.”
Khatib called for more investigation into Israeli practices against Palestinians in the occupied territories, including Israel’s policy of home demolition, relocation of people from their homes and land, and settler violence against civilians and their property, among others violations.