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Military courts and discimination against Palestinian children


January 5, 2016
Richard Kuper

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Detention figures – According to the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), as of 30 November 2015, there were 5,936 Palestinians (West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza) held as “security prisoners” in Israeli detention facilities including 407 children. In the case of children there was a 33 per cent increase in the number compared with the previous month and an annual increase of 7 per cent compared with 2014. According to the IPS, 56 per cent of Palestinian children and 88 per cent of adults continue to be detained in facilities inside Israel, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. A further 1,919 Palestinians were held in IPS detention as “criminal prisoners” including 27 children. Criminal offences include entering Israel without a permit, most frequently in pursuit of work. More statistics

 


 
What the detention figures show – The latest data released by the IPS shows that in November there was a 33 per cent jump in the number of minors held in detention in addition to the 80 per cent increase recorded in October. Not since March 2009 have there been this number of minors in Israeli military detention. This month also saw the number young children (12-13 years) in military detention rise to 4 and the number held in administrative detention increase to 5. As previously reported, the IPS statistics understate the number of minors detained and do not include minors held by the military and released within a few days – a number that is likely to be substantial.

 


 
MCW briefing note – In December, MCW released an updated briefing note focusing on recent developments in the military detention system including efforts to reduce the levels of reported abuse. Based on 120 testimonies MCW concludes that UNICEF’s 2013 finding that the “ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process” is still valid in December 2015. Night arrests, physical violence, blindfolds and painful hand ties continue to be of particular concern as well as the denial of basic legal rights such as timely access to lawyers and being informed of the right to silence. Further, on average 50 per cent of children continue to be unlawfully transferred to prisons inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Briefing note

 


 
Lawyers raise concerns re forcible transfer of protected persons – In December, MCW wrote to a number of diplomatic missions in Israel and Palestine including the U.S., E.U., Norway, Canada and Australia raising concerns about Israel’s continued practice of forcibly transferring protected persons from the West Bank in violation of international law. The letter notes that the practice currently affects between 7,000 and 8,000 Palestinians each year, including minors, who are unlawfully transferred to prisons inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The letter notes that war crimes on this scale have the potential to undermine the credibility of the international legal order and its institutions. In response to the letter a number of EU missions have requested a briefing on the issue at the level of deputy ambassador. Letter

 


 
The forced transfer of Palestinian detainees – why it matters – Palestinian children detained in the Israeli military detention system should be held in facilities located in Palestine, as opposed to Israel, in accordance with international law, UNICEF recommended in its 2013 report, Children in Israeli Military Detention (2013). The latest figures released by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) indicate that since UNICEF made this recommendation the percentage of Palestinian children being transferred to prison facilities inside Israel has actually gone up. To make matters worse, the military authorities have informed the UN agency that they have no intention of changing the policy. Read more

 


 
Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons – On 6 January 2016, a 90 minute Adjournment Debate will be held in the House of Commons on the issue of children held in Israeli military detention. An adjournment debate is a way in the Commons of enabling a debate to take place but without a question which the House must then decide.The debate is sponsored by Sarah Champion MP who visited the region in 2015 as part of a cross-party CAABU delegation, which was specifically briefed on the issue of children held in military detention by MCW. MPs from across the political spectrum are scheduled to speak. It is anticipated that the issue of the forcible transfer of protected persons, including minors, will be raised.

 


Testimony – On 13 December 2015, a 16-year-old youth from Qaryout is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 2:00 a.m. and accused of throwing stones and starting a fire near a settlement. He is released 13 hours later without charge. “About two months before I was arrested Israeli soldiers came to our house at around 3:00 a.m. They stormed into the house in a barbaric manner after my father opened the door for them. The soldiers asked my father to wake everyone up and to bring them to the courtyard. An Israeli intelligence officer named Rioubin was with the soldiers. He asked my father about me. The officer immediately approached me and told me he had information that I go to the fence near the settlement and set tires on fire.” Read more

 

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