The British government's Foreign Office has accused Israel of illegal mistreatment of Palestinian children after a report by a delegation of senior British lawyers revealed unconscionable practices, such as hooding, solitary confinement and the use of leg irons.
The report, Children in Military Custody, was released on Tuesday. The investigative team, funded and facilitated by the Foreign Office and the British consulate in Jerusalem, found that "undisputed facts" pointed to at least six violations of the UN convention on the rights of the child, to which Israel is a signatory.
The report claims that youngsters are dragged from their beds in the middle of the night, have their wrists bound behind their backs, and are blindfolded and made to kneel or lie face down in military vehicles. The children are held in conditions that amount to torture, such as solitary confinement and no access to their parents.
In a damning conclusion, the report points out repeated breaches of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
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In addition, Israel is a party to the Geneva Conventions, and bound by its obligations, yet Articles 76 and 65 of the 4th Geneva Convention were also found to have been breached, according to the report.
Article 76 prohibits detainees from being transported to the country of the authority which has detained them. In this case, Palestinian children were found to have been transported from the West Bank into Israel.
Article 65 states that any penal laws applied to prisoners in an occupied land must be translated into their own language. The lawyers said the Israeli authorities failed to translate Military Order 1676 from Hebrew into Arabic.
In a statement Tuesday night, the Israeli embassy in London said it appreciated the delegation's efforts "to learn about the challenges involved in dealing with minors involved in acts of militancy and violence. Regrettably, such activities continue to be encouraged by official Palestinian textbooks and television programs which glorify terrorism and suicide terrorists. As a result under-18 year olds are frequently involved in lethal acts… with the Palestinian Authority unable or unwilling to meet its obligation to investigate and prosecute these offenses, Israel has no choice but to do so itself."
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