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Israeli ill-treatment of Palestinian minors ‘widespread, systematic:’ UNICEF

Published: Updated:

The ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli detention centers “appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized,” according to a report published Wednesday by United Nations Children’s Fund.

In a 22-page report, UNICEF examined the state Palestinian children in Israeli military detentions and concluded with instances of “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”

“This conclusion is based on the repeated allegations about such treatment over the past 10 years and the volume, consistency and persistence of these allegations,” according to the report.

Over the past decade, Israeli forces have arrested, interrogated and prosecuted around 7,000 Palestinian children aged between 12 and 17, most of them boys, the report said, noting the rate was equivalent to “an average of two children each day.”

“In no other country are children systematically tried by juvenile military courts that, by definition, fall short of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure respect for their rights,” it said.

The vast majority of arrests are for throwing stones, which is considered an offence under Section 212 of Military Order 1651.

Although the maximum sentence for children of 12 and 13 is six months, the penalty rises dramatically from the age of 14 when a child can face a maximum penalty of between 10 and 20 years depending on the circumstances, it said.

In a step-by-step analysis of the procedure from arrest to trial, the report said the common experience of many children was being “aggressively awakened in the middle of the night by many armed soldiers and being forcibly brought to an interrogation centre tied and blindfolded, sleep deprived and in a state of extreme fear.”

Many were subjected to ill-treatment during the journey, with some suffering physical or verbal abuse, being painfully restrained or forced to lie on the floor of a vehicle for a transfer process of between one hour and one day.

In some cases, they suffered prolonged exposure to the elements and a lack of water, food or access to a toilet.

UNICEF said it found no evidence of any detainees being “accompanied by a lawyer or family member during the interrogation” and they were “rarely informed of their rights."