UN envoy: Israel’s imprisonment of PA children feeds violence

A United Nations envoy said Thursday that Israel’s detention of Palestinian children and failure give them proper trials are a problem that feeds the violence in the region.The UN’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflicts, Radhika Coomaraswamy, said she visited the Hasharon prison in central Israel, where she said more than 150 minors are held for security and criminal offenses.She said she urged Israeli officials to consider rehabilitation instead of detention for children detained on minor charges. Some 398 youths 12 years or older are held in Israeli jails, she said. This week the Israeli Prisons Authority said 371 Palestinian children under 18 are held in prisons.
“The process they are subject to is a military process … and not a judicial process. That is something that we feel is a problem,” she said. “I think children are getting very hard and bitter through this experience.”Coomaraswamy met with four children in the prison, including one held without trial. A 12-year-old and a 16-year-old were jailed for throwing firebombs, she said. “My sense is this kind of detention practice is feeding the cycle of violence.”Coomaraswamy said she met with Palestinian children in refugee camps and Israeli children in Sderot, an Israeli town next to Gaza that is a frequent target of rockets fired by Palestinian militants. She said she found children from both sides extremely despaired, but all expressed hope for peace.

Also, Coomaraswamy said she asked Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to hand over to the UN technical teams computer generated data for cluster bombs used during the Lebanon war.

She said general data for the cluster bombs were passed on, but that was not enough to locate them. The United Nations and human rights groups say that Israel dropped about 4 million cluster bombs on Lebanon during the war, and up to 1 million failed to explode, and now act as mines that could explode at any time.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Israel would continue to cooperate with the UN on the matter.

According to the UN, unexploded cluster bombs have killed 29 people and injured 215 since the war ended on August 14. 90 of those injured had been children.

“There is a computer sheet that is generated when targets are attacked. If (UN technical teams) get that information they can identify where the cluster munitions are,” Coomaraswamy said.

article from Haaretz (an Israeli newspaper) by AP


Israelis Torturing Palestinian Children

DHEISHEH REFUGEE CAMP, Occupied West Bank, Apr 10 (IPS) – Mohammed Mahsiri, a resident of Dheisheh refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, sits in a crowded café, a red kuffiyeh wrapped around his neck and an iconic portrait of Che Guevara emblazoned on his black t-shirt.About a year and a half ago, he tells IPS, he and his friend were walking down the street when Israeli military jeeps surrounded them, shouted at them in Hebrew to stop, and forced them inside a jeep.

“I was taken to a detention centre and interrogated,” Mohammed says. “The interrogation would begin at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and would finish after eleven pm. I was beaten all the time, especially if the soldiers did not get the answers they wanted.

“I was sent to be beaten by other soldiers and forced to stand in the rain with only thin clothes on. They would try to convince me that I did something that I did not do in order to get the confession they wanted. After being tortured at the detention centre for one month, I was in prison for 13 months.”

Shocking photographs of torture at U.S. military bases and detention centres in Iraq and Afghanistan outraged people across the globe, but Palestinians say they have endured similar treatment inside Israeli interrogation centres since the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

But Mohammed Mahsiri’s story is different. He endured considerable physical and psychological torture by Israeli interrogators and prison guards when he was just short of 17 years old.

What is being witnessed and documented within the detention centres and prison camps is widespread, systematic violation of international laws experienced by Palestinian children under 18 years old, including torture, interrogation, physical beatings, deplorable living conditions and no access to fair trial, according to reports by human rights groups and legal observers.

Under Israeli military orders in force inside the occupied West Bank and Gaza, any Palestinian over the age of 16 is considered an adult, while inside Israel the age of an adult is 18 — even though Israel is a signatory to the International Convention of the Rights of the Child, which defines all children as under 18 years old.

Moreover, Palestinian children over 14 years old are tried as adults in an Israeli military court, and are often put into prisons with adults. These are also direct violations of international law.

According to the latest figures offered by an independent group, there are 398 Palestinian children currently inside Israeli detention centres and prisons. Ayed Abuqtaish, research cocoordinator with Defence for Children International’s Ramallah offices, told IPS that the youngest child being held in prison is just 14 years old.

“Usually, the Israeli troops invade the child’s house in the middle of the night, in order to frighten the child and his family,” Abuqtaish told IPS. “Many Israeli soldiers and vehicles surround the house, and other soldiers invade or force their way into the house.

“They intimidate the child to prepare him for interrogation. When the child arrives at the interrogation centre, they employ different methods of torture.”

There are widespread reports of physical beatings, Abuqtaish says, “but currently, they concentrate mainly on psychological torture like sleep deprivation, or depriving him of food or water, or putting him in solitary confinement, or threatening him with the demolition of his home or the arrest of other family members. Children have also reported that the Israeli interrogators have threatened to sexually abuse them.”

Israel has consistently defended its policies of interrogation inside detention centres and prisons, saying that it is a necessary tool against the war on terror. In 1987, according to Israel’s Landau Commission of Inquiry into interrogation policies, the state determined that “a moderate degree of pressure, including physical pressure, in order to obtain crucial information, is unavoidable under certain circumstances.”

“Israel is a state party to the International Convention Against Torture,” Abuqtaish said. “In its reports to the committee, Israel always says that their use of ‘moderate physical pressure’ is consistent with the obligation of the treaty, but, needless to say, ‘moderate physical pressure’ is obviously torture in itself.”

Palestinian children in the Israeli prison system are not given any legal advocacy and are denied most of their rights, involved lawyers say.

Arne Malmgren, a Swedish lawyer, has worked as a legal observer inside Israeli military courts during trials of Palestinian children. “The Israeli court system does not look like any other court system in the world,” Malmgren told IPS. “Israeli military staff, the judge, the prosecutor, the interpreter — they are all in military uniform. There are plenty of soldiers with weapons inside the courtroom.

“The small children come into the courtroom in handcuffs and full chains; there can be up to seven children at the same time in the courtroom. One lawyer described it as a cattle market. The trial is more like a plea bargain — before the proceedings, the prosecutor and the lawyer have already agreed on the child’s sentence, and then they just ask the judge if he agrees, and he almost always does.

“There are no witnesses, nothing. And the worst thing is what happened before the child arrives at the courtroom — when they interrogate these young boys and girls to get them to sign confessions to things they may or may not have done.”

As negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli officials move forward this week in a possible prisoner exchange deal that may include the release of all imprisoned Palestinian women and children in a swap for an Israeli occupation soldier captured by Palestinian groups in Gaza last June, many Palestinians, including Mohammed Mahsiri, are hoping to see relatives, friends and loved ones come home.

“When I was released from prison, it was the best day of my life,” Mahsiri tells IPS. “We were beaten every day. The food was very bad. It was the hardest thing we had to face. No child should ever have to experience that.” (END/2007)

 article by Nora Barrows-Friedman

Israel’s Violations of the Right to Life

Throughout the second Intifada, beginning in September 2000, Israel has engaged in gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Israeli military activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) has been excessive and disproportionate. Routinely employing sophisticated military weaponry, including missiles and F16 war planes, Israeli forces have acted with insufficient, or no, regard for the lives of civilian residents of the OPT resulting in particularly high numbers of civilian casualties.

During this period Palestinian children have suffered countless violations of their rights, including violations of the right to life. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2006 there were an estimated 2.1 million children living in the OPT. These children constitute over half (52.3%) of the Palestinian population in the OPT. Their right to life, survival and development is the most fundamental of all human rights of the child. In spite of this, Israel has repeatedly and arbitrarily deprived Palestinian children of the right to life, in violation of article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to which it is a State Party.

In 2006, the Israeli military’s lack of respect for Palestinian human rights and for the guidelines that seek to protect civilians in periods of armed conflict (as embodied in international humanitarian law) continued. Throughout the year, the Israeli military employed violent, excessive and disproportionate force against Palestinian civilians. This was evident in the bombardment of civilian houses and infrastructure; the extrajudicial killing of Palestinian activists resulting in the killing of civilian by-standers; and the opening of random gunfire leading to the deaths of children either whilst inside their homes or playing near them. Despite Israel’s withdrawal of troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the territory remains occupied. As a result Palestinian civilians, including children, were exposed to numerous violations of international humanitarian law in 2006. Two massive Israeli military offensives in the Gaza Strip during 2006 resulted in high civilian casualties and wide-scale targeting of civilian infrastructure.

Report by, Defence for Children International – Palestine Section -.

Hassan Abu Nada’s father tells the story of his son’s murder by un identified gun men northern of Gaza

The victim child Hassan Abu Nada 

Mohamed Abu Nada’s son, Hassan, was three years old when he was killed on 23 March 2007. Unidentified members of the Al Qassam Brigades shot him in the neck during their attack on the house of Fatah leader, Jamal Abu Al Jedyan, in Beit Lahya, in the northern Gaza Strip.


According to Mohamed, a Volkswagen car pulled up in the street next to where he lives. Masked members of the Al Qassam Brigades came out of the car. “I hurried home after seeing them. I walked passed them, greeted them and kept going.”


“When I entered the house, I saw all my family terrified from the heavy shooting around Jamal Abu Al Jedyan’s house. After a while, I went outside to talk with my neighbours about what was happening. My kids were with me. While we were talking I heard my mother yelling at us to get inside the house because the clashes were getting too violent.”


At that point, a shower of bullets hit Mohamed and his family from where the militants were standing. “After this, we ran to take shelter inside the house. I screamed twice “Allahu Akbar, (God is The Greatest), stop shooting, we are civilians”.


Mohamed continued, “I did not realise at the time that my son was killed. I was trying to help my mother who had received a bullet in her chest.”


Mohamed suffered minor injuries, but his son Hassan, who was shot in the neck, died instantly. Khalid Abu El Jedyan and another man were also wounded.


“They killed an innocent child that hurt no one. Why? Why?”


High buildings and a street separate Abu Al Jedyan’s house from Abu Nada’s house.

Eyewitness reports claim that the child’s death was deliberate – Hassan was killed under direct fire. According to the victim’s father, the militants were well aware of who they were shooting at. Mohamed, his children and neighbours were standing in a well-lit area. The militants must have seen that he was carrying a baby and that children were playing in the street.


He added, “When we called the ambulance it came very late because it was scared to reach that area. They deprived us even from humanitarian aid”.

After they were transferred to the hospital, Mohamed’s mother was in a critical state. Mohamed said he could not tell his mother of his son’s death until her condition improved as she is diabetic and suffers from high blood pressure. She is still recovering.


Mohamed’s attempt to obtain a paper from the hospital’s administration that would prove his son died as a result of gunfire failed. Hospital workers told him he would be able to collect it after four days. But he is yet to receive such confirmation.


The father of the victim continues to reaffirm the presence of members from Al Qassam Brigades in the area next to their house that night. Neighbours also found empty bullet shells the next morning in that area. The father has refused to accuse any party directly and wants an investigation into the incident. He hopes his testimony will be enough to bring to justice those who murdered his son Hassan in cold blood.


Despite the continuous shivering and trembling, Mohamed Abu Nada continues to look on in despair at the house he built for his late son. He waits for moments and words that can relieve him of his sadness.


“They killed my son for no reason. Why did they kill him? Why did they deprive him of his life?”


Until now, Palestinian children remain victims of both the Israeli Occupation and the escalating clashes between opposing militant groups in

Civilians under attacks

Children demonstration against the killing of civilians in Palestine.The most striking of a series of attacks on Gaza City, wrought by two Israeli Abachi planes on 25th May 2006 saw a devastating scene on a civilian car passing through Salah El Din Street, as well as a nearby home.

Crowds surrounding the incident, ambulances rushing to carry away eleven injuries and seven dead bodies, blood lining the wall of a house. Just ten minutes after the attack, the seasoned Palestinian emergency services were clearing the debris from the second attack of the day on the conflict zone commonly known as the main city of the Gaza Strip.

Having stopped my car whilst on my way to the Gaza FM radio station where I worked, it became clear that the Israeli Abachis still in the sky had dropped two missiles, one having hit the blue Volkswagon, the other the gate of the house adjacent.

Three of the inhabitants of the bombed house were killed. Ahmed Al Moghraby, age 7, was the son of Ashraf Al Moghraby, who died along with his brother and elder son. Ahmed saw the whole incident.

“I was playing with my kite on the roof of the house with my brother, we heard a bomb and were so scared. My brother ran downstairs to see what happened, and went with my father outside the house, then the other bomb killed them. Now they are in Paradise and I am sure they are happy, so I am happy for them,” Ahmed says.

I went to El Shifa Hospital, the main hospital in the Gaza Strip, to find out about the injuries and deaths. Four men were in the car, all were aged between 25 and 30- all died. One, Ali El Emary, aged 26, was employed by the Ministry of Health, working as an ambulance officer. The hospital confirmed that Ashraf Al Moghraby died at the age of 32, his brother, 30, and his son, As’ad, just 8 years old.

The eleven people injured were mainly women and children on their way to the children’s hospital near to the site of the occurrence.

An Israeli army spokesman stated that the targeted car was transporting a group of Palestinian resistance members who had reportedly been launching rockets against the Israeli villages near the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian government maintain that the area was purely civilian and no resistance groups would have used the neighbourhood as a base for launching rockets against Israelis. A call has been made for the United Nations and the Security Council to protect the Palestinian people from further attacks.

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