Report highlights widespread detention of Palestinian children 14Mar11 March 17, 2011

Britain Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group (BPAPPG) & the Council for Arab British Understanding (CAABU) Report  -  14 March 2011

Under Occupation, which is based upon recent delegations to the West Bank by the Britain-Palestine Group and the Council for Arab British Understanding (Caabu) includes firsthand accounts from MPs that witnessed the trials of Palestinian minors, in the Israeli military court system. The report shows that approximately 700 Palestinian children are prosecuted every year in such courts and that at the end of January 2011, 222 Palestinian children were being held in Israeli jails.

The report also describes how children are arrested in early morning raids, during which time they are hooded, shackled and regularly subjected to abuse. While stone-throwing is the most common charge levied against children, they are regularly arrested indiscriminately and remanded in detention with little or no evidence. Courts therefore often rely upon soldiers’ testimonies and confessions, often extracted via coercion, to secure a conviction.

A full version of the report is available here.

For more information contact Caabu’s Parliamentary Officer, Graham Bambrough, on 0207 832 1322 or via bambroughg@caabu.org

Executive summary of Under Occupation

Approximately 700 Palestinian children are prosecuted every year in Israeli military courts. Since 2000, more than 7,000 children have been detained and at the end of January 2011, 222 Palestinian children were being held in Israeli jails. Children are often arrested in early morning raids, during which time they are hooded, shackled and regularly subjected to abuse. Interrogations are not recorded and generally take place without the presence of a lawyer or a parent. Both delegations witnessed military trials conducted in Hebrew involving allegations of forced confessions and/or witness statements, allegedly extracted under torture. Israel’s actions in relation to the treatment of minors represent serious breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the UN Convention against Torture and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The number of settlers inside the West Bank has now surpassed 500,000, spread out across 149 settlements and 100 so-called unauthorised outposts. Four of these settlements are now cities and all are explicitly illegal under international law. In September 2010, despite the resumption of talks between the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, settlement construction resumed following the end of a moratorium. Construction of the separation wall also continues. The creation of ‘enclaves’ has led towns, villages and in some cases single houses to be completely cut off from their wider surroundings. In al-Walajeh for example, a village west of Bethlehem, the wall snakes and twists its way 360 degrees around the entire village. Once construction is complete the village will be completely encircled.

Since the occupation of East Jerusalem began Israel has pursued a policy of reducing the Arab identity of the city. This has involved the forced displacement of part of the Palestinian population and the illegal construction of settlements in around and the city for Jewish Israelis. The present pattern of eviction and demolitions, accompanied by plans to establish settlements in the heart of Arab neighbourhoods, weakens the Palestinian integrity of the city.

Settler violence against Palestinians is on the increase. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in 2010 there was an average of 35 incidents of settler violence per month. During the olive harvest at the end of 2010, some 5,900 olive trees were damaged or destroyed, apparently by settlers. In the week that the January delegation was in the West Bank, OCHA documented six separate incidents involving settlers. The aftermath of one incident was witnessed by the delegation.

Area C, under total Israeli control, still accounts for 60% of the West Bank and is home to 150,000 Palestinians. Israeli restrictions upon Palestinian activity in these areas are severe. Whilst Jewish construction in the Occupied Territories is encouraged in order to increase Israeli control over the area, Palestinians are similarly prevented from any meaningful construction in 60% of the West Bank.

The mandates of the Palestinian parliament and presidency have expired. Municipal elections are also long overdue. In areas of the West Bank controlled by the Palestinian Authority, human rights and freedom of the press have not been respected. Both delegations received a number of reports of activists from Hamas being detained by PA security forces.


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