By Defence for Children International, Palestine Section – 29 Sept 2009
[Ramallah, 29 September 2009] – On 29 September 2009, DCI-Palestine submitted 11 cases to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. The cases arise out of three incidents where the Israeli army entered Palestinian villages in the middle of the night and rounded up children en masse, accusing them of throwing stones at the Wall and settler by-pass roads in the West Bank.
The first incident occurred in the village of Tura al Gharbiya, near Jenin, in the early hours of 19 January 2009. Units from the Israeli army took children as young as 12 years old from their homes and interrogated them in the village youth centre before transferring them to an interrogation and detention centre. The children report being beaten and threatened into providing confessions stating that they threw stones at the Wall.
The second incident occurred on 26 March 2009, in the village of Haris, south of Nablus. As many as 90 children were rounded up by units from the Israeli army and subjected to beatings and threats. The children were accused of throwing stones at Route 505, a nearby road used by Israeli settlers in the West Bank. The case was reported in The Independent newspaper on 9 June, which referred to a ‘fanatical atmosphere’ among soldiers during the incident in which ‘curses, humiliation, pulling hair and ears, kicks and slaps’ were the norm.
The third incident occurred in the village of Azzun, near Qalqiliya, in the early hours of 14 July 2009. Boys as young as 15 report receiving severe beatings during intense interrogation sessions that occurred in a number of locations. One boy recalls that during his interrogation ‘he asked me how many times I threw stones. I told him I never threw stones. He hit me with his hands and kicked me. After that he stepped heavily on my leg and said ‘you son of a whore, I’ll break your head if you don’t confess.’ As a result, the boy became very scared and ‘confessed to throwing stones just to get rid of the pain he was causing me.’ The same boy then signed a confession written in Hebrew, a language he does not understand. The boys from Azzun, like most detained Palestinians, are being held in prisons inside Israel in contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949).
These cases are not isolated incidences, but examples of what appears to be the systematic and institutionalised ill-treatment of approximately 700 Palestinian children each year in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The situation has not improved since the UN Committee Against Torture published its Concluding Observations regarding torture and ill-treatment in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in May 2009.
There are currently 339 Palestinian children being held in Israeli detention facilities. For further information please see DCI-Palestine’s latest report on child detainees.