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UN: Israel Torturing Palestinian Children

Report from international body's Committee on the Rights of the Child highlights systematic abuses suffered by children under the occupation

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Israel continues to engage in systematic rights violations of Palestinian children including torture and the use of children as human shields, a UN body charged on Thursday.

In its most recent periodic report, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) outlined a litany of persistent offenses Israel forces have committed with a direct impact on children under its continued occupation.

"The Committee expresses serious concerns that hundreds of Palestinian children have been killed and thousands injured over the reporting period as a result of the State party military operations, especially in Gaza where the State party proceeded to air and naval strikes on densely populated areas with a significant presence of children, thus disregarding the principles of proportionality and distinction," the report stated.

Further, cases of children being attacked by settlers in the West Bank has risen during the reporting period. Not only are Palestinian children not being protected from such acts, Israeli military forces "bring support to those committing violence," and "perpetrators are not brought to justice and enjoy full impunity for their crimes."

The report highlighted concerns over the "practice of torture and ill - treatment of Palestinian children arrested, prosecuted and detained by the military and the police."  The report states that children living under the occupation continue to be:

(a) Routinely arrested in the middle of the night by soldiers shouting instructions at the family and taken hand-tied and blindfolded to unknown destination without having the possibility to say good bye to their parents who rarely know where their children are taken;

(b) Systematically subject to physical and verbal violence, humiliation, painful restraints, hooding of the head and face in a sack, threatened with death, physical violence, and sexual assault against themselves or members of their family, restricted access to toilet, food and water. These crimes are perpetrated from the time of arrest, during transfer and interrogation, to obtain a confession but also on an arbitrary basis as testified by several Israeli soldiers as well as during pre-trial detention; and

(c) Held in solitary confinement, sometimes for months.

The CRC also denounced the "continuous use of Palestinian children as human shields and informants" in its report. Yet cases of such abuses have also continued with impunity. The report states that "Almost all those using children as human shield and informants have remained unpunished and that the soldiers convicted for having forced at gunpoint a nine-year old child to search bags suspected of containing explosives only received a suspended sentence of three months and were demoted."

The torture and ill-treatment of children violate article 37 (a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and represent a grave breach of article 32 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the committee points out.

In addition, public health continues to decline for Palestinian children because hospitals and health clinics have been attacked Israeli forces, permits to allow children to receive treatment at a health facility outside the occupied territories are denied or delayed, and the drinking water is highly contaminated, a crisis that has caused 12 percent of child deaths in Gaza

The Israeli Foreign Ministry dismissed the CRC's report, saying it had "no importance" because it was "simply recycling old stuff," Reuters reports.


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