More than 10,000 Palestinian minors in the occupied West Bank and annexed Jerusalem have been held by the Israeli army for varying periods since 2000, a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official said Wednesday, adding that 20 percent of those detained since June of this year are minors.
“Israel does not provide any immunity for children and regularly violates international agreements on children’s rights by humiliating and torturing them and denying them fair trials,” Issa Qaraqe, head of the PLO’s committee on detainees, said in a statement.
The release was issued to mark the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the UN General Assembly.
Qaraqe went on to say that Israeli forces have detained around 3,000 Palestinians – for varying periods – since June of this year, some 30 percent of whom were children.
Around 95 percent of detained children were subject to beatings and torture by Israeli security personnel while in detention, while many were forced to make confessions under duress and undergo unfair trials, Qaraqe said, adding that at least 300 children are still detained in Israeli jails on various charges.
Violent practices by Israeli soldiers as well as settlers against Palestinian children is endemic and often abetted by the authorities.
On Friday, an 11-year-old Palestinian who was shot in the face with a “sponge bullet” during clashes with Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem was left blind in one eye, even though Israeli protocol explicitly prohibits firing the foam-tipped bullets at the upper body.
During the month of November, Israeli forces detained four Palestinian children, aged 13 to 16, for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli cars, and attempted to detain two Palestinian children, a two-year-old and a nine-year old, on suspicion of throwing stones.
According to a PLO report for the month of October, Einas Shawkat, 5, was run over and killed by an Israeli settler in Sinjil, while four other children under the age of 17 were deliberately hit and injured in similar hit and run attacks.
Other than the hit and runs, at least 12 children under the age of 16 were injured in the space of a month. The majority were injured in clashes with Israeli forces.
The Palestinian Authority Department of Prisoner’s Affairs said in October that “dozens” of Palestinian minors jailed by Israel have been beaten or assaulted during their time in Israeli custody.
Similarly, an earlier report by Defense for Children International (DCI) published in May 2014 revealed that Israel jails 20 percent of Palestinian children it detains in solitary confinement.
DCI said that minors held in solitary confinement spent an average of 10 days in isolation. The longest period of confinement documented in a single case was 29 days in 2012, and 28 days in 2013.
A report by The Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights Israeli forces arrested nearly 3,000 Palestinian children from the beginning of 2010 to mid-2014, the majority of them between the ages of 12 and 15 years old.
The report also documented dozens of video recorded testimonies of children arrested during the first months of 2014, pointing out that 75 percent of the detained children are subjected to physical torture and 25 percent faced military trials.
The most excruciating violations are seen in the psycho-physical torture methods, including the act of forcing children to sit on the investigation chair chained hand and foot and covering their entire heads with foul-smelling bags, in addition to depriving them of sleep.
In 2013, the UN children’s fund (UNICEF) reported that Israel was the only country in the world where children were “systematically tried” in military courts and gave evidence of practices it said were “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”
The UNICEF report said in a 22-page report that over the past decade, Israeli forces have arrested, interrogated and prosecuted around 7,000 children between 12 and 17, mostly boys, noting the rate was equivalent to “an average of two children each day.”
Palestinian children as young as five years old have also been detained in the past.
In 2013, Israeli forces in the West Bank detained four Palestinian children aged five to nine years.
Palestinian activist Murad Ashtiye told AFP at the time that “Israeli soldiers arrest the children and tie their hands behind their backs using plastic strips.”
Meanwhile in Gaza, a 51-day Israeli aggression last August left at least 505 children dead, 20 percent of the total civilian death toll.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA said 138 of its students were killed during the assault. The organization’s spokesperson Christopher Gunness said an additional 814 UNRWA students were injured and 560 have become orphans due to the Israeli onslaught.
The worst massacre took place in the Abu Hussein School of the Jabaliya refugee camp in the north killing and injuring dozens even after the agency said that it gave the school’s coordinates to the Israelis more than 17 times so they won’t hit it.