Israeli Armed Forces and Children’s Rights

A Context of Increasing Violence

In these days, Israel is carpet bombing a land strip in which the average age is 17 years, killing children by dozens and asserting their deaths are unintended. Israel provoked a humanitarian crisis under the guise of self-defence, of its fight against terrorism. But let us turn back time a couple of weeks and remember what has happened in the eastern part of Palestine, in the occupied West Bank.

Proud Palestinian Boys


Proud Palestinian Boys. (Qusra 01/06/2014)

On the 12. June 2014, three Israeli settler teenagers went missing while hitchhiking in Area C in the southern West Bank. While their families went through hell for preoccupation, the Israeli government used this terrible event as a pretext to launch so called Operation Brother’s Keeper of repression against the citizen of the West Bank. Thousands of homes were searched and ransacked; hundreds of people were arrested and often detained without any accusation (see i.e. Al-Jazeera: Israel, not Hamas, orchestrated the latest conflict in Gaza ; Mondoweiss: Israel’s message to the Palestinians: Submit, leave or die; Breaking Israel News: Operation Brothers Keeper Completed)

As the bodies of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali were found on the 30. June 2014, the violence increased even more. Israeli politicians and civilians called for revenge, peaking in the abduction and most brutal murder of a Palestinian teenager, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, in Shu’fat neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. According to the Israeli police,
Mohammed was burnt alive by right-wing Israeli extremists the night after the burial of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali.

While Abu Khdeir family was mourning for Mohammed, his cousin Tariq, who lives in the US and had come to Shu’fat with his parents for a family visit, was violently beaten up by members of the Israeli police before being arrested without any charge. Save for Eyal, all these victims are underage and thus considered as children under international law. These cases have all been highly mediatized for the violence they implied.

Tariq Abu Khdeir

We joined a large crowd in the corridors of the Israeli civilian court of first instance on the 6. July 2014 to bear witness as Tariq, the only survivor among the five mentioned teenagers, was tried. But we also went to show solidarity with all the other Palestinian minors who face this kind of ordeal every day.

Crowd in Corridors Civilian Court


The day Tariq was tried, the corridors at the Israeli civilian court were crowded with journalists and other observers. (Jerusalem 06/07/2014)

On this occasion, we met Tariq’s mother, Souha, an amazing woman who was not afraid to speak her mind in front of a large assembly of journalists. Indeed, she declared the media were the most important help, since their reports across the world helped to strengthen international pressure on the Israeli authorities to treat Tariq humanely. She was deeply upset about the circumstances her 15 year old son had been arrested. In an interview she had given the previous day to KRCR TV, Souha had described the attack on Tariq as attempted murder. In front of the court building, Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian member of the Knesset, was at her side. "The way Israel deals with Palestinian lives is outrageous", he exclaimed, "the life of a Palestinian is not cheaper than any Israeli life".

Tariq was released from jail, but even though he had not been charged with any crime, he was put under house arrest until his departure for the United States. His parents had to pay a bail of 3000 shekel (around 650 Euro). As Tariq came out the back door of the court building accompanied by his parents and Ahmad Tibi, he explained what had happened to the journalists who bombarded him with questions: "[the policemen] came from behind, and they hit me, and they kept hitting me and then I fell asleep, and then I woke up in a hospital."

Souha hugs Tariq


As Tariq came out the back door of the court, they were assaulted by journalists. Souha gave her best to give her son support. (Jerusalem 06/07/2014)

Even though furious, Souha was impressively self-controlled as she commented on the sentence in a calm voice: “I am not really happy, because he hasn’t been accused with anything nor charged with anything, and they put him under house arrest. (…) They said that’s Israeli policy. That’s what happens to everyone who is captured and held in jail, they have to pay a fee.” Asked about her feelings, she said “[I have] all kinds of emotions at the same time, I just want to go home now (…) if I had the choice, I’d leave [for the United States] as soon as possible”. As the conversation went on, she lost some of her temper “My family member are still grieving about Mohammed Abu Khdeir (…), today I was supposed to be by the side of Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s mother, but I [have to be] next to my son now.”

Souha


An amazing woman. Souha talking with journalists. (Jerusalem 06/07/2014)

Tariq’s case is an exception, not because violence against youth is rare in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but because he got all that attention. Souha was well aware that her son benefited from a somehow privileged treatment thanks to his US-citizenship, “otherwise he’d have been pushed aside like a dog. He’d been left to rot in jail” she said. But meanwhile the world followed Tariq’s story, the 20 youths who were tried under similar circumstances the same day in the same court went almost unnoticed.

No Respect of Palestinian Children’s Rights

The fact that Tariq’s story is so well documented helps illustrating how the Israeli State violates fundamental rights no matter if it has ratified Conventions that ensure them.

In 1991, Israel ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and thus committed to respect the rights and dignity of children. Article 19 of the CRC states: “States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation (…)”. However, on the first page of it’s report Children in Israeli Military detention - Observations and Recommendations of the 6. March 2013, UNICEF notices “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, from the moment of arrest until the child’s prosecution and eventual conviction and sentencing.”

Children asking for their right to a home


Children whose home has been demolished protesting for their right to have a safe haven to grow up. (Ramallah 28/05/2014)

According to Addameer, approximately 700 children from the occupied West Bank are arrested, interrogated and tried in Israeli military court every year. This corresponds to an average of two a day. They are mostly charged with throwing stones and thus incur up to 20 years of imprisonment. This practice constitutes a breach of article 37 (b) of the CRC, providing that the “arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child (…) shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”

While article 37 (c) of the CRC states that “Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age.” and article 3 provides that “the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration”, the UNICEF report identifies “examples of practices that amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture” (p. 9) including beating, threats, deprivation of sleep, of food and water, of hygiene facilities, of medical care and of access to a lawyer as well as of communication with family members (p. 5, 9 and 10). The report concludes that "ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized." (p.13)

boy with teargas canisters


A boy showing the teargas canisters he found in a field after a clash with the Israeli army. (Qusra 01/06/2014)

In these days, Israel is carpet bombing a land strip in which the average age is 17 years, killing children by dozens and asserting their deaths are unintended. Israel provoked a humanitarian crisis under the guise of self-defence, of its fight against terrorism, failing once again to take it’s responsibilities to protect the civilian population in the occupied territories.

The Israeli Human Rights organisation B'Tselem lists the names of the children killed in Gaza on its website.


Further documentation

6-year-old child detained on his way to school


Soldiers follow a child who hides in a garbage container in order to arrest him


Israeli soldiers kicking 9 year old


Australian documentary (2014): Israelis torturing non-Jewish children


Room n° 4 Photography campaign illustrating violations of Palestinian children's rights


UNICEF in the occupied Palestinian territories


Defence for Children in Palestine


*** *** ***
I have been sent to Palestine and Israel by HEKS-EPER and Peace Watch Switzerland as Human Rights Observer in the frame of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). The opinions expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the sending organizations. If you like to publish the information contained in this article or disseminate it further, please first contact the EAPPI Communication Officer eappi-co@alqudsnet.com or Peace Watch Switzerland palestine@peacewatch.ch More information about our program can be found on www.eappi.org and www.peacewatch.ch

So many civilions have been

So many civilions have been killed by the Israeli. And this time I got clear picture of America and Israel relationship. Thanks to the media.

Israel has no respect for

Israel has no respect for them at all. So many people have been killed by the Israeli. And this time I got clear picture of America and Israel relationship. Thanks to the media.

Reply to comment | por la carretera

Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.
You obviously know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting
videos to your blog when you could be giving us something informative to read?

don't get your point

Regena, your comment makes no sense. I'd say this blog contains way more text than videos. The testimonies are well documented. The opinion pieces do not have any pretension to be informative and just represent a few thoughts on a specific topic.
por la carretera is open to critic voices, but please, be relevant about it.

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