The following press release was issued on 11 June 2009:
Today, DCI-Palestine is releasing a report which documents the widespread ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children at the hands of the Israeli army and police force — “Palestinian Child Prisoners: The systematic and institutionalized ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities.”
The release of the report comes just days after an article was published in The Independent newspaper reporting the testimonies of two Israeli soldiers which detail the deliberate abuse of Palestinian children. One soldier is reported as saying that in an incident that occurred in a Palestinian village in March, he saw a lot of soldiers “just knee [Palestinians] because it’s boring, because you stand there for 10 hours, you’re not doing anything, so they beat people up.”
The report published today contains the testimonies of 33 children, one as young as 10 years old, who bear witness to the abuse they received at the hands of soldiers from the moment of arrest through to an often violent interrogation.
Most of these children were arrested from villages near the Wall and illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. There is evidence that many children are painfully shackled for hours on end, kicked, beaten and threatened, some with death, until they provide confessions, some written in Hebrew, a language they do not speak or understand.
“A soldier […] pointed his rifle at me. The rifle barrel was a few centimetres away from my face. I was so terrified that I started to shiver. He made fun of me and said: ‘shivering? Tell me where the pistol is before I shoot you.’”
— Ezzat, 10 years old
Disturbingly, the report finds that these illegally-obtained confessions are routinely used as evidence in the military courts to convict around 700 Palestinian children every year. And the most common charge against these children is for throwing stones. Once sentenced, the children who gave these testimonies were mostly imprisoned inside Israel in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention where they receive few family visits, and little or no education.
The report concludes that this widespread and systematic abuse is occurring within a general culture of impunity where in 600 complaints made against Israeli Security Agency interrogators for alleged ill-treatment and torture, not a single criminal investigation was ever conducted.
The report also contains recent recommendations made by the UN Committee Against Torture which expressed “deep concern” at reports of the abuse of Palestinian children when it reviewed Israel’s compliance with the Convention Against Torture in May 2009.
Download report [PDF - 4 MB]