Media Roundup: Arrest and Detention of Palestinian Children

The 2012 British report on Israeli violations of child rights law spurred a flurry of articles and op-eds on the issue in the British and Israeli press. This post highlights some of the most significant of these articles.

In an op-ed in the British Independent, Donald Macintyre identifies the report’s central conclusion as Israel’s legal obligation to follow the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in the occupied West Bank, regardless of security considerations. He concludes that, although the report has “no enforceability,” it may have significant political impact because the children’s rights is an extremely salient issue

In a second article in the same publication, Terry Judd surveys the responses of the British and Israeli government to the report. The British Foreign Office has pledged to lobby the Israeli government on the practices condemned by the report. A spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in London has neither confirmed nor denied the allegations of mistreatment, but has stated that Palestinian children are “frequently involved in lethal acts.” (The Israeli Ministry of Justice made a similar response to a recent letter from mental health professionals protesting some of the same practices.)

In an article in the British Guardian (which has provided exceptional coverage of these issues over the past year), Harriet Sherwood summarizes the report’s starkest findings with an eye towards the difference between the treatment of children who are Israeli citizens and West Bank Palestinians who are not.

Writing in the British Jewish Chronicle, Martin Bright calls the new report “damning” and stated that it could be “deeply damaging to Israel.” He takes pains to note that the most serious human rights violation cited in the report, the solitary confinement of children, is not yet “verified.”

In contravention to Bright’s article, the human rights group Defense for Children International (Palestine Section) reports in its latest newsletter that a sixteen year old Palestinian boy named Mahmud spent nearly two weeks (6 to 18 June) in solitary confinement in the al-Jalame prison near Haifa after being arrested on suspicion of throwing stones and molotov cocktails.

Writing at the leftist blog +972 Mag, Yossi Gurvitz underscores that the report’s allegations were common knowledge among individuals who follow the situation in the West Bank. He argues that a majority of Israeli adults have seen footage of abusive arrests of Palestinian children, and reflects that “[t]hose who dwell in darkness grow used to it.”

In the leftist Israeli daily Ha-Aretz, Ramallah-based Israeli journalist and columnist Amira Hass identifies the report’s allegations as modest. She declares, “we can allow ourselves to be a bit less tactful and restrained, and conclude that cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment is the norm.” She also argues that the British government takes allegations of the abuse of Palestinian children more seriously than the Israeli government.

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