Israel ‘abusing’ detained Palestinian children, Human Rights Watch alleges

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli security forces are “abusing” Palestinian children detained in the West Bank, Human Rights Watch alleged.

Israeli police and soldiers are using unnecessary force in arresting and detaining the Palestinian children, beat them, and hold them in unsafe and abusive conditions, the human rights group claimed in a report released Monday citing interviews with children who have been detained, video footage and reports from lawyers.

In addition, many of the children are interrogated without a parent present, which violates international and Israeli law.

“The failure to abide by international norms and protections under Israeli law concerning child detainees is particularly worrying given the spike in the number of children arrested during the recent violence involving children,” according to the report.

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Sari Bashi, the Israel and Palestine country director for Human Rights Watch, said “Palestinian children are treated in ways that would terrify and traumatize an adult. Screams, threats and beatings are no way for the police to treat a child or to get accurate information from them.”

Israel Police rejected the report, saying the detention of juveniles by security forces was done in accordance with the law.

“Police officers act in accordance to Israeli law and binding operational procedures that includes upholding the rights of the suspects wherever they are and without prejudice,” the Israel Police said in a statement.

The number of Palestinian children arrested in the West Bank since October, which marked the beginning of a significant escalation of Palestinian terror attacks, has risen by 150 percent relative to a year ago. In addition to attacks on Israeli civilians and security forces by Palestinian children, the instances of Palestinian children throwing stones at Israeli vehicles has increased, the report said.

“The increasing number of attacks by Palestinian children is troubling,” Bashi said. “But security forces should obey the law and treat child detainees with the humanity and dignity that all children deserve.”

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