From: "DCI/PS" <dcipal@palnet.com>

Defence for Children International/Palestine Section
15 January 2001
For Immediate Release

Ref:  0001/01
 


MORE THAN 250 PALESTINIAN CHILDREN DETAINED SINCE 28 SEPTEMBER 2000

Israel's excessive use of force since 28 September 2000 has taken many
forms.  Among their harshest tactics has been the detention of minors, with
more than 250 children detained during the three months since the beginning
of the Intifada. While the rights of Palestinian children are violated on a
daily basis by the Israeli occupation, we have witnessed a severe
intensification of this trend since late September, with the first
detention occurring 30 September 2000, shortly after the almost daily
clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians began.  As a
States Party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which
entered into force in Israel on 2 November 1991, Israel is bound to uphold
the articles contained therein.  However, Israel's record during the past
three months as well as before illustrates a patent disregard for its
commitments under international law.

Article 37 of the CRC states that "the arrest or imprisonment of a child
shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of
last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time." The article
also asserts that "every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with
humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person," and
that "no child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment."  In contrast, however, Palestinian
children arrested, detained, and/or imprisoned by the Israeli occupation
authorities routinely face violations of their rights, as provided in the
CRC, the UN Convention Against Torture, the Fourth Geneva Convention and
other international instruments.  Such violations include being subjected
to: torture, both physical and psychological; arbitrary arrests and
detention; detention without trial; detention with criminal prisoners;
detention with adult prisoners; and detention outside of the Occupied
Palestinian Territories. Furthermore, in 1999, the Israeli military once
again began implementing Military Order #132, which allows for the arrest
and detention of Palestinian children from 12-14 years of age.  The Order,
which was implemented during the first Intifada, was frozen after the
signing of the Declaration of Principles in 1993.  However, after the
coming to office of Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the Military Order was
re-instituted.  One result of this has been the recent detention of
numerous fourteen-year-old children.

Prior to the beginning of the Intifada, approximately 70 Palestinian minors
were detained in Israeli prisons. The number of children who have been
detained following arrest in the recent period brings the total number of
Palestinian children currently detained in Israeli prisons to more than
250.  These children range in age from 14 to 17 years, with at least 105 of
them from Jerusalem.     During the past three months alone, Defence for
Children International/Palestine Section's (DCI/PS) attorney has handled
approximately 30 cases of minors arrested by the Israeli occupation
authorities. The children are being held in Gush Etzion (near Bethlehem),
Maskobiyya (in Jerusalem), Huwarra (in Nablus), Kadomin (Tulkarem and
Qalqilya), Salem (Jenin), Ashkelon (near Gaza), Al-Jalemeh (near Haifa),
Telmond (in Israel) and Megiddo (in Israel) prisons.  Several of the
arrests of children have been 'group' arrests, targeting groups of children
in particular locations. Thirty-one of the thirty-five children from the
village of Husam, near Bethlehem, have been arrested in this manner.

In addition to being arrested, children are further traumatized by the
nature of the arrests, which involves several stages. Children are usually
arrested in their homes in the middle of the night, as Israeli soldiers
forcibly enter the home, conduct a 'search' during which contents of the
home are upset and family members are threatened and verbally abused. Even
domestic space that is usually considered a safe-haven, a private realm, a
respite from the insecurities of life in the streets, is disrupted and
forced open to an external power. The violation of the house is both symbol
and practice of the Israeli government's systematic control over
Palestinians' lives.  The occupying force persists in the investiture of
the Palestinian's bodies and homes with a logic of shame and insecurity.
Any encompassing structure that might afford a person some modicum of
protection, security and privacy, has become for Palestinians a forcibly
appropriated arena.

The children are subsequently placed under detention and interrogated,
during which time they are frequently tortured, which includes being beaten
and subjected to "position abuse," or shabeh.  Prisoners in shabeh are tied
up in extremely painful positions, shackled to walls or small chairs that
force them to contort their bodies, left in the same position for hours or
days.  The initial discomfort quickly turns to pain and grows more intense
as time passes.   In September 6, 1999, the Israeli High Court of Justice
issued a decision to ban violent interrogation methods used against
Palestinians by members of the Israeli General Security Services (shabak).
Despite this ruling, cases of Israeli torture of detainees continue to be
regularly reported. Moreover, it is important to note that this ruling
addressed only members of the shabak, and did not address torture inflicted
by Israeli police or military officials.

By Israeli military order, it is permitted to detain Palestinian children
for an initial four days, and then extend the detention another four days.
After these eight days, in order to allow time to prepare a case to be
raised against the child in military court, the prosecutor can order yet
another extension of the child's detention. The prosecutor then requests
the judge to arrest--not sentence--the child, and presents a charge sheet.
The child can be held in this liminal status without sentence indefinitely,
as has been the case with 17 year old Su'ad Ghazal.  Though arrested in
December 1998, Su'ad has yet to be sentenced.

Palestinian children are left under circumstances which are not only
difficult, but which also violate the children's human rights as laid out
by the CRC and a number of other human rights agreements and conventions to
which Israel is a party.  Since the beginning of the Intifada, prisoners
from the West Bank have been barred by the Israeli occupation authorities
from family visits.  In addition, in Telmond prison, more than 30
Palestinian children political prisoners are being held with criminal
prisoners. The children being held in Telmond who come from Jerusalem have
been arrested for throwing stones.  Whereas children from the West Bank
arrested for the same reason are detained as "security" prisoners, children
from Jerusalem are detained as criminal offenders, on the charge of
"blocking traffic."  Not only does this system violate Israel's own laws
requiring separation between "security" and criminal prisoners, detention
with criminal detainees further places Palestinian children in dangerous
and often corrupting situations.

Evidence of a clear Israeli policy targeting children is clear from the
increased number of arrests and length of sentences for Palestinian
children.  In the recent period, Israeli prosecutors have been requesting
judges to issue longer sentences for children arrested for throwing stones,
whether they are charged with criminal or "security" offences.  Beginning
in 1999, prosecutors began requesting sentences longer than the six-month
maximum sentence routinely issued for Palestinian minors arrested for
throwing stones.  However in the recent period, prosecutors have further
increased the requested sentence, with prosecutors routinely asking for
sentences of a year or more imprisonment.  Recently, after a prosecutor
asked for sentences of 1 ½ years for two children, the DCI/PS lawyer
succeeded in reducing the sentences to nine and ten months.  Also
disturbing are statements made by the judge in this case, as well as the
appeals court, saying that the courts must not differentiate between
children and adults who are engaged in stone throwing.

It is clear that Israel's treatment of Palestinian children, throughout
this Intifada and before, demonstrates their blatant disregard for
Palestinian children's rights. Particularly disturbing is that indicators
of the present situation were evident prior to the Intifada, beginning in
1999 with the re-implementation of Military Order #132, the initiation of
mass arrests, and increased sentence lengths.  In 1998, the DCI/PS attorney
followed-up 89 cases of minors detained by the Israeli occupation
authorities.  In 1999 that numbered jumped to 202.

DCI/PS urges local and international activists, organizations, and
institutions to demand the prompt release of all Palestinian children held
in Israeli prisons and detention centers. Please send faxes and emails to
the following officials, and please cc. DCI/PS (dcipal@palnet.com).

Prime Minister Ehud Barak
pm@gov.il
+972 2 566 4838

Minister of Justice Yossi Beilin
sar@justice.gov.il
+972 2 628 5438
-END-
 
 
 

Defence for Children International/Palestine Section
is an independent, Palestinian non-governmental
organization, established in 1992 to promote and
protect the rights of Palestinian children as articulated
in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as well
as in other international instruments.

DCI/PS, P.O. Box 55201, Jerusalem
Tel:   +972 2 240 7530
Fax:   +972 2 240 7018
(Note: please try and use +970, if the above country code does not work)
Email:   dcipal@palnet.com
Website:  www.dci-pal.org (click on 'new' for updated information)

 Jerusalem