Middle East

Palestinian children 'mistreated' in Israeli detention

Palestinian youths throw stones towards Israeli soldiers near Hebron (file photo)
Image caption The report said the majority of arrests were for throwing stones

The ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli jails is "widespread, systematic and institutionalised", a UN report says.

The study, by the children's fund Unicef, described some of the practices used in dealing with children as "cruel, inhuman or degrading".

It acknowledged Israel had made some "positive changes" in its treatment of young detainees in recent years.

Israel said it would "work hard" to adopt the report's recommendations.

According to the report, an estimated 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17 are arrested by Israeli security forces in the West Bank every year.

It said ill-treatment typically began with arrests carried out in the middle of the night and continued through to prosecution and sentencing.

The report said unacceptable practices included "blindfolding children and tying their hands with plastic ties, physical and verbal abuse during transfer to an interrogation site, including the use of painful restraints".

It said during interrogation, some detained children had been "threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault, against themselves or a family member".

"Treatment inconsistent with child rights continues during court appearances, including shackling of children, denial of bail and imposition of custodial sentences and transfer of children outside occupied Palestinian territory to serve their sentences inside Israel," it said.

Alongside the criticism, it noted a number of "positive changes" made by Israel in its handling of Palestinian minors in recent years.

This included new hand-tying procedures designed to prevent pain and injury, a requirement to inform parents of a child's detention, and for children to be informed of the right to a lawyer.

Responding to the report, Israel said it faced a "difficult new reality... [with a] recent surge in the involvement of Palestinian minors in acts of terror.

"The existing methods and facilities were designed with adult terrorists in mind. Such methods and facilities are of course unsuitable for children. As such, Israel will need to adjust to this uncomfortable and unfortunate reality, and the efforts Israel is making to do that are evident and were noted in the report."

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