Palestinian children 'mistreated by Israelis' says UN report

UN report accuses forces of torture and using children as human shields

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 June, 2013, 2:31am

A United Nations human rights body yesterday accused Israeli forces of mistreating Palestinian children, including by torturing those in custody and using others as human shields.

Palestinian children in the Gaza and the West Bank were routinely denied registration of their birth and access to health care, decent schools and clean water, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said.

"Palestinian children arrested by [Israeli] military and police are systematically subject to degrading treatment, and often to acts of torture," it said in the report.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it had responded to a March report by Unicef on ill-treatment of Palestinian minors and questioned whether the latest investigation covered new ground.

Yesterday's report acknowledged Israel's national security concerns and noted that children on both sides continue to be killed and wounded, but that more casualties are Palestinian.

Most Palestinian children arrested were accused of throwing stones, which can carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, the committee said.

The watchdog examined Israel's record of compliance with the children's rights convention as part of its regular review of the 1990 signed by 193 countries, including Israel.

The watchdog's 18 independent experts regretted Israel's "persistent refusal" to respond to requests for information on children in the Palestinian territories and Syrian Golan Heights since the last review in 2002.

"Hundreds of Palestinian children have been killed and thousands injured over the reporting period as a result of the state party military operations, especially in Gaza where the state party proceeded to [conduct] air and naval strikes on densely populated areas with a significant presence of children, thus disregarding the principles of proportionality and distinction," the report said.

During the 10-year period reviewed, an estimated 7,000 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17, but some as young as nine, had been arrested, interrogated and detained, the report said. Many were brought in leg chains and shackles before military courts, and held in solitary confinement, sometimes for months.

The report voiced deep concern at the "continuous use of Palestinian children as human shields and informants", citing 14 reported cases between January 2010 and March this year.

Israeli soldiers had used Palestinian children to enter potentially dangerous buildings before them and to stand in front of military vehicles, it said.