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Israel's abuse of Palestinian children

March 1, 2014 at 5:10 pm

I wonder if the United Nations has always been a toothless dog. The organisation is very good at coming up with conventions and getting countries to sign and ratify them but not quite so good at getting them to comply with them. The situation reminds me of the late 70s and early 80s when no smoking signs started appearing on buses and other forms of public transport. The transportation companies felt that it was their job to put the signs up but, when it came to enforcing the regulation they actually believed that it was someone else’s job. I think the UN might be operating along the same lines.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted on 20 November 1989 and entered into force on 2 September 1990. The state of Israel ratified the CRC in 1991 but continues to wage war on Palestinian children, some as young as the age of five. There is ample video-graphic evidence of Israeli Defense Force personnel targeting children, roughing them up unnecessarily and arresting them at gun point. Why it is necessary to point an M16 at a child below the age of 12, or any age for that matter, defies logic. Often, for want of a better excuse they are charged with “throwing rocks”. Israeli military order 378 allows for up to 20 years of imprisonment for stone throwing and while international standards put the age of adulthood at 18, despite having ratified the CRC Israel has allowed that children of the age of 16 may be tried as adults. Following arrest they are interrogated and denied access to their parents and legal counsel. Victims have reported that they are traumatized, beaten, denied food and water and deprived of sleep for periods of up to several days. It is therefore not surprising that confessions are extracted by force and the statements which the victims are then forced to sign are prepared in Hebrew, a language which the vast majority of them do not understand.

According to reports over 9,000 children have been arrested since the year 2000 (almost 700 per year). They are all subjected to inhuman treatment. It would take too much room to quote the entirety of the CRC in this article but certain extracts are necessary.

“No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

“The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”

“Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.”

As mentioned above Israel ratified the CRC in 1991 but arbitrarily ignores its Articles and in turn, the UN ignores the resulting human rights abuses that Israel commits in the name of national security. We are not talking about ignorant travelers arrogantly ignoring no smoking signs here. We are talking about a country that continues to torture children as young as the age of five while the United Nations under Ban Ki Moon does nothing but make “tut-tutting” noises, cowed by their master and overseer, the United States of America.

Perhaps the UN might like to follow the example of the Israeli NGO, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI). The PCATI is an Israeli human rights organisation that works to combat torture. It was founded in 1990 in reaction to the policy of the Israeli government to allow the systematic use of torture and ill-treatment in investigations. According to one of the organisation’s reports arrested children were subjected to verbal and physical threats including those of sexual violence. It is mind boggling to imagine how any country that considers itself to be civilised to allow such horrendous abuse.

It is evident, and very sad that well-intentioned Israeli NGOs are more active in defending Palestinian children than the United Nations.

The internet is full of video-graphic evidence of Israeli abuse and these are just two examples:

And although unrelated to the issue of the abuse of children, this one is especially for Ban Ki Moon:

Stewart Sloan works as an editor for regional human rights NGO in Hong Kong and is a published author. He may be contacted at [email protected]

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.