A United Nations independent human rights expert today condemned Israel’s use of solitary confinement against Palestinian children.
Reports say Israel uses solitary confinement against 12 per cent of Palestinian child detainees.
To respond to the appalling news, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk expressed condemnation against Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinian children.
Mr. Falk urges the Israeli Government to treat children detainees in accordance with international human rights laws.
7 May 2007. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
“Israel’s use of solitary confinement against children flagrantly violates international human rights standards.” -Mr. Falk
Mr. Falk stresses that using solitary confinement as a punishment for Palestinian children who wish to peacefully protest their situation, including by commencing a hunger strike against conditions of detention, is an appalling abuse of child prisoners.
“I again condemn Israel’s harsh arrest operations and procedures.” -Mr. Falk
According to reports, Israel arrests about 500 to 700 Palestinian children every year.”
In addition, witnesses revealed that mistreatment of Palestinian children starts from the moment of detention.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Palitha T.B. Kohona of Sri Lanka also reported that large numbers of Palestinian children are routinely detained.
“Children’s homes are surrounded by Israeli soldiers late at night, sound grenades are fired into the houses, doors are broken down, live shots are often fired; no warrant is presented. Children are tightly bound, blindfolded and forced into the backs of military vehicles.” -Ms. Palitha
According to witnesses, the detention and transfer of children can last for hours, and can often include stops in Israeli settlements, Israeli checkpoints and police or military bases.
“This pattern of abuse by Israel is grave.” – Special Rapporteur Falk
He adds that the abuse is inhumane, cruel, degrading, and unlawful, and it is likely to adversely affect the mental and physical health of underage detainees.”
Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not United Nations staff, nor are they paid for their work.
In May this year, following mediation by Egypt and Jordan, Israel has agreed to end solitary confinement for all Palestinian prisoners and allow around 400 prisoners from Gaza to receive family visits in an agreement reached today.
The agreement also covered discussions on improvements in prison conditions, such as access to televisions and telephone calls.
In return, Palestinian prisoners’ leaders reportedly have signed a commitment to “completely halt terrorist activity inside Israeli prisons,” including recruitment, practical support, funding and co-ordination of operations.
In April this year, more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners began an open-ended hunger strike on Palestinian Prisoners Day. This hunger strike is a protest against unjust arrest procedures, arbitrary detention and bad prison conditions.
In addition, also in February this year, a Palestinian detainee in Israel waged a hunger strike for almost two months, trying to draw attention to Israel’s military justice system and its treatment of detainees.
Khader Adnan, 33, has refused food for 55 days in protest at his imprisonment without charge by Israel.
Adnan’s hunger strike is the longest ever waged by a Palestinian detainee.
In a addition, a Palestinian woman was on a hunger strike for nearly a month to protest at her treatment.
Reports say Hana Shalabi is refusing to eat since she was detained on February 16. She is reportedly being held in solitary confinement.
Ms. Shalabi became the second Palestinian detainee to go on a hunger strike in quick succession.
Shalabi, 30, is reportedly a member of Islamic Jihad, which is committed to Israel’s destruction.
In October 2011, Hamas released Israeli Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit, who had been held captive since June 2006, in exchange for the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners by Israel. The first 477 of those prisoners were released yesterday.
Israel captured East Jerusalem along with the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War in 1967, but annexed the city as its united capital in a move not recognized by the international community. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as capital of their future State.
Talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians have been stalled since late September 2010 following Israel’s refusal to extend a 10-month freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.