Rights Groups Accuse Israel of Abusing Detained Palestinian Minors

IDF soldiers arrest a 7-year-old Palestinian child. (Photo: ISM, file)

A new report accuses Israel of “systematic abuse” of young Palestinians arrested after attending protests in occupied East Jerusalem.

The report by Israeli rights groups B’Tselem and HaMoked, it says Israel is ignoring special laws to protect the rights of the detained minors and teenagers.

The report, titled Unprotected: The detention of Palestinian Teenagers in East Jerusalem was released on Wednesday, and detailed an investigation of 60 affidavits gathered between May 2015 and October 2016.

It says teenagers accused of throwing stones at soldiers are detained in the middle of the night and questioned without a lawyer present.

“Palestinian teenagers from East Jerusalem are pulled out of bed in the middle of the night, unnecessarily handcuffed and interrogated without being given the opportunity to speak to a lawyer or their parents before the questioning begins and without being informed of their right to remain silent,” the groups found.

“They are then held under harsh conditions, repeatedly remanded to custodial detention for additional period of days and even weeks, even once their interrogation has ended. In some cases, all this is attended by verbal abuse or threats and physical abuse.”

While 70 percent were able to speak to a lawyer during or before interrogations, B’Tselem and HaMoked found that in many cases the boys were handed the interrogator’s personal phone to speak to a lawyer, and the conversations were “inadequate and failed to help the minors understand their rights and what they were up against.”

“It stands to reason that the law enforcement system would treat these teenagers in an age-appropriate manner that takes their physical and mental maturity into account, recognizing that every action could have long-term repercussions for the boys themselves as well as for their families,” the report explained.

“It stands to reason that the system would treat the boys humanely and fairly and provide them with basic protections. But that is not the case.”

According to the report, 25 percent of the children interrogated said violence was used against them, though the report did not detail specifically what kind of injuries were caused.

In addition, more than half the children said that interrogators screamed threats and verbal abuse at them. Almost a quarter were not allowed to use the bathroom or were given food when they asked.

Denying the children food and drink was one of the leading methods to get the children to confess, with 83 percent of the minors saying a big reason they signed confessions was because they were hungry — 80 percent of the confession statements were in Hebrew, so the children could not read what they were signing.

(AJE, Mondowiess, PC, Social Media)

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