Two reports published on 2014, one by the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights and the other by a Dutch multidisciplinary group of experts, highlight once again the high rate of Palestinian minors who have contact with the Israeli military authorities and the risks associated with their detention.
The Dutch report, “Palestinian Children and Military Detention: A report of the Dutch multidisciplinary group of experts on the practice and impact of arrest, interrogation, detention, and adjudication of Palestinian children by Israeli military authorities,” was requested by the groups gate48 – Platform for Critical Israelis in the Netherlands and Palestine Link, and released in April 2014. The group of experts visited the West Bank in late 2013 with the aim of “develop[ing] a concrete set of recommendations for the Dutch government, to be used in consultation with the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, to improve the treatment of Palestinian children and ensure that their internationally recognized rights are respected.”
After visits and interviews with a range of organizations and individuals, including mental health and law professionals who work with Palestinian children, representatives from the Palestinian Authority as well as the IDF, and various NGOs, the group of experts came to the conclusion that “the treatment of Palestinian children accused of committing crimes by the Israeli military authorities represents a serious, systemic, and systematic violation and disregard of the rights of these children. This method of treatment has a significant negative impact on the lives of the affected children, their families and their communities.” According to the group, the overexposure of Palestinian children to Israeli military authorities is inextricably linked with its context, the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories: “A structural solution in order to end the widespread violations of the rights of (accused) Palestinian children by Israeli military forces in the West Bank would be an end of the military occupation.” However, in light of the current situation, the group does make some practical recommendations for changes in the treatment of Palestinian children who come into contact with Israeli military authorities in accordance with their international rights as protected by the Geneva Convention and the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Their recommendations, which can be found at the end of the report, are of particular interest for what they reveal about the risks that Palestinian minors often face.
The second report, published by the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, a not-for-profit NGO based in Geneva, was released on June 30th, 2014, in the wake of the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens a few weeks earlier. At the time of the report’s publication, it was not yet publicly known that the teens had been murdered, and Israeli authorities were conducting raids and arrests in the West Bank as they retaliated and searched for them. As in the previous report, Euro-Mid highlights the particular risks which Palestinian children are exposed to in such a situation, citing the fact that Israeli authorities “seized an estimated 2,500 Palestinian children and youth between January 2010 and June 2014 – with approximately 400 just 12-15 years old. Under the Israeli military regime, reports the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), a child as young as 14 or 15 years old can potentially receive a sentence as long as 20 years.”
In the report, Euro-Mid “documents continuing abductions of Palestinian youth and children, as well as numerous human rights violations such as torture and coerced confessions during detention, in violation of international laws,” as other reports, including those by UNICEF, have done in the past. In accordance with their findings, Euro-Mid “is calling for equal coverage of the plight of Palestinian children by the international media, and for the signatory states of the Geneva Conventions and other international stakeholders to bring all pressure at their disposal (including denial of financial pacts and assistance) on Israel to immediately halt violations of their human rights.”
The full report, as well as a useful infographic of the report and video testimonies of Palestinian minors who have been detained by the Israeli military, are available online.