Written by Tazeen Hasan
Every year on April 17th, Palestinians commemorate Prisoners Day to raise awareness about the plight of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners languishing in Israeli jails. Among those prisoners are children, who are often subjected to brutal treatment and denied their fundamental rights.
One such child is five-year-old Muhammad Elayyan, who was summoned for interrogation by Israeli authorities. His father accompanied him, holding a toy and snacks for the child, who could potentially face detention for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli soldiers.
Sadly, Muhammad's story is not unique. Since 2000, ten and twelve thousand Palestinian children have been arbitrarily detained in Israeli military detention centers, mostly on charges of throwing stones. This charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Palestinian children are denied fair trials and fundamental rights, and are often kept in pretrial or administrative detention for years, sometimes released only after years of arbitrary incarceration. According to UNICEF, the ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system is widespread, systematic, and institutionalized throughout the process, from the moment of arrest until the child’s prosecution and eventual conviction and sentencing.
In June 2020, the Annual Report of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict revealed that the UN received affidavits from 166 children who reported ill-treatment and breaches of due process by Israeli forces, including physical violence and one threat of sexual violence. Similarly, a study by Save the Children UK consulted 430 minor detainees over ten years and found that 8 in 10 minor Palestinian detainees reported physical beating while 9 in 10 reported verbal abuse.
The Amnesty International report published in February 2022 declared Israel an apartheid regime. According to the report, Palestinian children are subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including to obtain “confessions,” and are denied access to counsel or family visits.
These acts are a violation of International Humanitarian and Human Rights laws. Report concludes that Israel is in breach of eight of its international legal obligations, including;
Palestinian Prisoners Day is a reminder that Israel's systematic mistreatment of Palestinian political prisoners and children must end.
It is time for the international community to take action and hold Israel accountable for its blatant human rights violations against children.
Don’t Stop Now