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Israel arrested around 6,000 Palestinian children over five years Open in fullscreen

Imogen Lambert

Israel arrested around 6,000 Palestinian children over five years

Arrests of Palestinian children have been dramatically increasing each year [AFP]

Date of publication: 30 December, 2015

Thousands of Palestinian children have been arrested by Israeli forces in recent years, with many enduring violence and abuse during their detention.
Almost 6,000 Palestinian children have been arrested by Israeli army forces in the last five years, with figures continuing to increase.

The rate of annual arrests of children between 2000-2010 stood at 700 a year.

But this increased dramatically to nearly 1,200 arrests each year between 2010-2015, according to a new report by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Affairs.

The figure has also grown rapidly within the last year, with a 72 percent increase in arrests in 2015 compared to the previous year.

A total of 5,934 children have now been detained by Israeli forces in the last five years.

The report expressed grave concern over the continued targeting of Palestinian children and the escalation of arrests, calling for urgent intervention to bring a halt to the punitive measures against the youngsters.

"2015 has been a year of horror and brutal torture against minors," said Issa Qarage, chairman of the Prisoner’s Affairs.

"Israel has had these children arrested, thrown in prison, beaten and tortured not for security reasons as they claim, but in order to destroy their future and their dreams."
Israel has had these children arrested, thrown in prison, beaten and tortured not for security reasons as they claim, but in order to destroy their future and their dreams
Violence and torture 

"The soldiers led me to a waiting military jeep. They tied my hands to the back with one plastic tie, which was very tight," said one 16-year-old from Nil’in in the West Bank. "They also blindfolded me and took me into the back of the jeep and made me sit on the metal floor."

In attempts to shed light on individual cases and the brutality involved, Palestinian NGO, Military Court Watch, collected testimonies of detained children, with many highlighting the violence and mistreatment by Israeli security forces.

"A soldier beat me with his gun in my eye and another soldier accused me of throwing stones at soldiers. I told him I didn’t throw stones at soldiers. He then kicked me on my knee," the 16-year-old explained.

He was detained in Ofer prison in the West Bank after he declined to act as an informant for Israeli security services.

Palestinian children have found themselves at the forefront of clashes with the Israeli military [AFP]


A 14-year-old from Tuqu', southeast of Bethlehem, was one of the 1,500 Palestinian children arrested in October this year.

"The interrogator removed the ties and the blindfold and accused me of throwing a Molotov cocktail at settlers," the child said. 

"He did not inform me of any rights. I denied the accusation and told him I had no idea how to prepare Molotov cocktails. He then said 'In that case, you are accused of throwing stones at settlers and soldiers.' The first round of interrogation lasted for about two hours," he explained.

The youngster went on to speak about the physical violence and abuse he endured during the interrogation.

"The interrogator punched me in the stomach and slapped me. He hurled abuse at me, punching and kicking me again. I couldn’t take the pain, so I decided to confess to throwing stones at soldiers on two occasions."
The interrogator punched me in the stomach and slapped me. He hurled abuse at me, punching and kicking me again. I couldn’t take the pain, so I decided to confess to throwing stones at soldiers on two occasions
- 14-year-old detainee
A global outcry

The international community has also expressed concern at Israel's mistreatment of Palestinian children.

On 6 January, there will be a parliamentary debate in the United Kingdom on child prisoners in Palestine. 

The UK Palestine Solidarity Campaign urged for wide participation of members of parliament in the debate, saying that a UK-funded report in 2012 led to some minor "legal and procedural" changes.

Yet the organisation said that "the level of abuse has largely remained unchanged."

According to a Human Rights Watch [HRW] report released earlier this year, Israeli security forces have used unnecessary force to arrest or detain Palestinian children as young as 11. 

"Israeli forces' mistreatment of Palestinian children is at odds with its claim to respect children's rights," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.

"As Israel’s largest military donor, the United States should press hard for an end to these abusive practices and for reforms."

Palestinian children have found themselves at the forefront of recent clashes with the Israeli military, which have been escalating since October. 

The killing of 23 Palestinian children by Israeli security forces between September and December have been documented and independently verified, according to Defense for Children International.

Twenty-one of the deaths were due to the use of live ammunition.

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