Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
التضامن الإيرلندي الفلسطيني

“No Way to Treat a Child – Arrested for being Palestinian”

On 1st June, the same day that the Israeli military shot and killed 2-year-old Palestinian child Mohammed Tamimi, the respected human rights organisation Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) published a new report entitled ‘Arbitrary by Default: Palestinian Children in the Israeli Detention System.

Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only state in the world that systematically prosecutes hundreds of children in military courts each year. Palestinian children in the West Bank, like adults, face arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment under an Israeli military detention system that denies them basic rights.

Since 2016, Israel has held an average of 225 Palestinian children in custody each month, according to data provided by the Israel Prison Service. DCIP’s report finds that 75% of these children have endured some form of physical violence following arrest. 97% of these children had no parent present during interrogation, and two thirds were not properly informed of their rights. Israeli forces did not inform the children of the reason for their arrest in 85% of cases, 58% were arrested in the middle of the night, 88% were blindfolded on arrest, 41% were denied food or water, and 80% were strip-searched.

The report is based on affidavits collected from 766 children detained by the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank between January 2016 and December 2022. DCIP lawyers and field researchers collect affidavits from children during prison visits in accordance with UN standards, and are trained to ask a series of non-leading questions.

The report found that interrogators used stress positions, threats, and isolation to coerce confessions from some of these children. Most of them were arrested for throwing stones, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. Many children maintain their innocence, but plead guilty as the fastest way to get out of the system. Trials can last a year or more, during which children remain behind bars as the military courts deny bail in most cases.

During 2022, Israeli authorities transferred 69% of Palestinian child detainees from the occupied Palestinian territories to prisons inside Israel’s borders, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These children have limited family visits, as parents struggle to obtain entry permits to Israel.

The report finds that Israeli authorities have an established pattern and practice of targeting young Palestinian males for arrest and prosecution based on their Palestinian identity rather than any legitimate law enforcement objective.

From the widespread ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children to the systematic denial of due process rights emerges a system of control that masquerades as justice, where arbitrary detention is the default policy.

IPSC National Chairperson Zoë Lawlor responded to the report saying:

“With this catalogue of atrocities, Israel aims to systematically crush the spirit of each generation of Palestinians. The Irish government must take action now to sanction Israel. Ordinary people who wish to support Palestinian human rights can do so by joining the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement”.

Defence for Children International – Palestine is an independent, grass-roots Palestinian child rights organisation dedicated to defending the rights of children living in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Partly funded by the EU, it investigates and documents human rights violations against children and provides direct legal aid to children in distress.

The full report can be read online here.

DCIP’s ‘No Way to Treat a Child’ website can be accessed here.


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