Once again Israel has been accused of torturing children. This time the state has been accused of caging Palestinian children in outdoor holding pens during the recent freezing winter storm. Lawyers from Israel’s Public Defender’s Office (PDO) visited a prison in Ramle during the storm and published a report on their website.
“public caging”, threats and acts of sexual violence and military trials without representation…..”
“During our visit, held during a fierce storm that hit the state, attorneys met detainees who described to them a shocking picture: in the middle of the night dozens of detainees were transferred to the external iron cages built outside the IPS transition facility in Ramla,” the PDO wrote on its website.
“It turns out that this procedure, under which prisoners waited outside in cages, lasted for several months, and was verified by other officials.”
This information came to light at a recent hearing of the Knesset’s Public Petitions Committee on December 31st. An Israeli NGO, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), claimed this torture is a longstanding issue in a report (pdf) reminding the committee “that torture and ill treatment are absolutely prohibited and that Israel’s legislature must anchor this prohibition in its domestic law. ”
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni heard about it and intervened; “immediately telephoned Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, telling him to end the practice.”
Shockingly, the Jerusalem Post reported members of the committee claimed they “lacked data…about the frequency and scope of those practices it objected to such as midnight arrests.”
That’s sort of hard to believe, haven’t they been paying attention?
April 2012 Defense for Children International issued an urgent appeal reporting torture was “common place” including interrogators using “severe acts of violence and threats of rape and electrocution.” (pdf)
June 2012 a British delegation of lawyers issued a report which garnered a lot of press, Children in Military Custody revealed “unconscionable practices, such as hooding and the use of leg irons.”
March 2013 UNICEF issued a 26 page report accusing Israeli forces of torturing Palestinian children. Children in Israeli Military Detention, Observations and Recommendations (pdf)
On the heals of the UNICEF’s March report U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child (OHCHR) issued a ‘progress report’ (pdf) alleging ”systematically subject to degrading treatment, and often to acts of torture”, Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor slammed the report claiming it was issued “only to grab headlines”!!
And then last October we reported UNICEF announced the Israeli military had agreed to test an “alternative treatment,” a “pilot-test” program reforming the way they arrests children in the West Bank. Instead of dragging them out of bed to arrest them in the middle of the night the pilot program would issue summons for the children. How’s that program coming along? Or was it this merely an act of damage control ?
One would have to be living under a rock to be unaware Israel routinely tortures Palestinian children. The Independent reported “The committee also took issue with the fact that the government appeared not to keep records of the frequency or scope of disputed practices like midnight arrests.”
Perhaps the government should start reading the varying reports!