A human rights organization based in Israel accused the country of torturing, publicly caging and sexually abusing Palestinian minors.
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) demanded that Israel lower its threshold of abusive treatment when it comes to children, adding that it is the only nation to automatically and systematically prosecute minors in military courts - that too without a guarantee of a fair trial.
PCATI released a report entitled “Childhood is not a Privilege but a Right !” last week based on the findings by non-governmental organizations Defense of Children International (DCI-Palestine) and Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR).
The document revealed rather disturbing details about how the Israeli legal system and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) deals with Palestinian children in general.
Around 700 Palestinian children – some as young as 12– are placed into military detention camps in Israel each year, meanwhile no Israeli children come into contact with the military court system, according to PCATI. A majority of them are held for trivial offences such as throwing stones and at least 74 percent undergo physical violence during arrest, transfer or interrogation.
There have been numerous cases filed against IDF soldiers who are accused of torture and sexual assault. Some were also being kept in iron cages in freezing temperatures, an abuse which was only exposed after a surprise night-time inspection of a prison.
Almost all of the cases – such as the ones stated above – are rarely investigated. While giving testimony to an Israeli investigator, the plaintiff is not even allowed to be accompanied by a representative of their choice, the report says. Having to go through so much, the child usually succumbs to the pressure and confesses a crime he didn’t even commit in the first place.
Even the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has criticized Israeli over the treatment of Palestinian minors.
In October last year, UNICEF released a report highlighting Israel’s violations against detained Palestinian children despite an alleged decision by the Israel government to improve their conditions and official methods of interrogation.
“Israel now allegedly detains children, aged 12-13, for 24 hours instead of four days, while children 14-15 years of age are now detained for two days before being sent to court comparing to four days as per previous measures. Yet, Israel did not change detention measures for children aged 16 -17,” UNICEF stated.
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