Israeli authorities routinely detain Palestinian children in isolation solely for interrogation purposes, a practice that amounts to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, said Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) in its newly released report.
The 73-page report by the rights group, "Isolated and Alone: Palestinian children held in solitary confinement by Israeli authorities for interrogation," evaluates and details patterns of arrest, detention conditions and interrogation practiced by Israeli authorities. It concludes that the physical and social isolation of Palestinian children for interrogation purposes by Israeli authorities is a practice that constitutes solitary confinement, amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under international law norms.
DCIP documented 108 cases over a four year period ending in December 2019, where Palestinian children were being detained by the Israeli military and were held in isolation for two or more days during the interrogation period.
Evidence and documentation collected by DCIP overwhelmingly indicate that the isolation of Palestinian children within the Israeli military detention system is practiced solely to obtain a confession for a specific offense or to gather intelligence under interrogation. The practice is a clear violation of international law, says the rights group.
"International law prohibits the use of solitary confinement and similar measures constituting cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment against children, and yet Israeli authorities frequently detain children in this manner," said Khaled Quzmar, General Director of DCIP. "It is widely acknowledged that this practice causes both immediate and long-term psychological harm to children. It must end immediately, and the prohibition must be enshrined in law."
Children are subjected to physical violence and other forms of ill-treatment while in Israeli custody. DCIP found that during interrogation, Israeli military law does not afford Palestinian minors the right to have a parent or lawyer present. The interrogation techniques are often mentally and physically coercive, frequently incorporating a combination of intimidation, threats, verbal abuse and physical violence with a clear purpose of obtaining a confession.
In all 108 cases documented by DCIP, Israeli authorities interrogated Palestinian child detainees without the presence of a lawyer or family member, and children were overwhelmingly denied a consultation with a lawyer prior to interrogation. Israeli authorities use coercive tactics, including the use of informants, resulting in children unintentionally making some incriminating statements or even false confessions.
Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts each year. DCIP estimates that since the year 2000, Israeli military authorities have detained, interrogated, prosecuted and imprisoned approximately 13,000 Palestinian children.