Catherine Hunter

A Welcome Spotlight on Palestinian Child Prisoners

The plight of Palestinian children arrested by the Israeli army has long been one of the neglected aspects of Israeli occupation, involving some 600 minors a year since the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000. Nearly all are held without access to legal support during questioning, often compelled to sign confessions in Hebrew, a language they don’t understand, while subjected to intimidation and mistreatment as a matter of routine course. It starts with the arrest itself, which can take place during night-time incursions or mass arrest campaigns, or at military checkpoints. 

Limited number of child soldiers, all sides implicated

The volume of children recruited in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains a small fracton of the problem in other conflict zones such as in Africa. A new report stated that both Israeli and Palestinian government forces have been implicated in the misuse of Palestinian children. While the Palestinian Authority has recruited some under-18s for its security forces, the Israeli army and intelligence services have sought to recruit children as informers, often putting pressure on them to collaborate. Israel detaines at least 350 Palestinian children a year. Some of these children have reported torture and are often treated in ways which fall short of standards on juvenile justice.