César Chelala writes at Common Dreams:
An Australian documentary just released titled “Stone Cold Justice” alleges that some Palestinian children were being physically abused and forced into false confessions by the Israeli military to gather intelligence on Palestinian activists. Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, states in the documentary, “The natural reaction is that this is intolerable – these are intolerable cases, and that I would like my authorities to do their utmost to make sure that this will not be repeated and that this will change. And I believe that this is precisely what we are doing.”
Jewish leaders in Australia issue a blistering rebuke on what they call a “quasi-documentary”. They claim the documentary was a “blanket demonization” of Israel, “laced with sensationalism, inadequate skepticism and fact-checking.” An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) official debunked the allegations of torture contained in the documentary, and branded its director’s portrayal of the Israeli court system as “fictitious, blatant and malicious.”
The documentary comes after a 2013 UNICEF report entitled “Children in Israeli Military Detention (pdf),” which was sharply critical of Israel’s treatment of detained Palestinian children and youths. According to that report, 700 Palestinian children aged 12-17, most of them boys, are arrested and harshly interrogated by the Israeli military, police and security agents every year in the occupied West Bank.
A new UNICEF progress report states that although some progress has been achieved “violations are ongoing”. The progress report states that there were 19 sample cases of abuse of youths between 12 and 17 in the occupied West Bank in the second quarter of 2013.
The information on mistreatment of Palestinian children and youths is the result of several years of information gathering by UN agencies related to grave violations committed against Palestinian children in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. This information is regularly reported to the United Nations Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.
Last June, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child confirmed the abuses against Palestinian children, including torture, solitary confinement and threats of death and sexual assault in prisons. “These crimes are perpetrated from the time of arrest, during transfer and interrogation, to obtain a confession but also on an arbitrary basis as testified by several Israeli soldiers,” stated the committee.
The reported abuses of Palestinian children also confirm what the organization Breaking the Silence, constituted by Israeli soldiers who served in the IDF and work to expose human rights violations had stated in its report called “Children and Youth, Soldiers Testimonies 2005-2011.” In one of the testimonies, a soldier from the Nahal Brigade with rank of first sergeant, stated, “On your first arrest mission you’re sure it’s a big deal, and it is actually bullshit. You enter the Abu Sneina (Hebron) neighborhood and pick up three children. After that whole briefing, you’re there with your bulletproof vest and helmet and stuck with that ridiculous mission of separating women and children. It’s all taken so seriously and then what you end up is a bunch of kids, you blindfold and shackle them and drive them to the police station at Givat Ha’vot. That’s it, it goes on for months and you eventually stop thinking there are any terrorists out there, you stop believing there’s an enemy, it’s always some children and adolescents or some doctor we took out. You never know their names, you never talk with them, they always cry, shit in their pants.”
According to Article 37 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, State Parties shall ensure that “No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,”…and “Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.” These provisions have been repeatedly violated by the Israeli authorities.
Read more here.