The world forgot that abusive treatment, coerced confessions, and deprivation of counsel and parental contact are still a fact of life for hundreds of Palestinian children locked up in Israeli jails in violation of basic human rights.
The world also forgot that many Palestinian prisoners are still on hunger strike in protest against decades of arbitrary arrest and inhumane treatment by the regime of Israel. Approximately 6,300 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli prisons and detention centers on vague charges, including 300 children. But the number could go higher than that, as no one has access to any of Israel’s secret prisons in occupied Palestine.
Just for the record, since 2012, Israel has held about 200 Palestinian children in custody each month. Palestinian children from the occupied West Bank are routinely imprisoned by the Israeli military. At the end of February 2016 alone, there were 440 Palestinian children in the Israeli prison system, including 104 between the ages of 12 and 15.
Nor is that all. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says children are often coerced into signing confessions in Hebrew without understanding the language or content of the statement. The most common charge for children is stone-throwing, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years!
Such harsh sentences are used as retaliatory tactics aimed at countering youth activism or as a means of retribution against older family members. Israel is in fact the only military regime in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children per year in military courts. According to the US State Department, military courts have a more than 99 percent conviction rate for Palestinian defendants. Also according to the UNICEF, mistreatment in the military detention system is “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized throughout the process.”
This military law has applied to Palestinians since 1967, which means this year marks 50 years that they have lived without freedom, equality, or basic rights. It also means treatment of children by Israel runs counter to International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law, which mandates that “countries have a distinct juvenile-justice system that recognizes the special status of children, protects minors from violence, and focuses on rehabilitation and reintegration.”
It further means that the ongoing US-led regime-change war on Syria is deliberately changing for the worse the landscape around the Palestinian people’s right to freedom and self-determination. Now confident that the resistance front is too busy fighting America’s terror proxies in Iraq and Syria, and that it has a true supporter in the White House, Tel Aviv is unlikely to end its systematic human-rights violations, including those against children.
However, now that a report commissioned by the UN recently characterized Israel as having established an apartheid regime, the world body could do the best next thing: Issue and ratify an economic sanctions resolution against Israel and pressure its major ally the United States to stop supporting it financially and militarily.
There is no denying that the situation on the ground is getting deliberately grimmer for the Palestinians because the world body is too busy blaming the Syrian government for staged chemical attacks being carried out by America’s terror proxies against the Syrian people. The world body is also too busy with President Trump’s runs against North Korea to do anything that could help protect the rights of Palestinian children and all Palestinians, much less hold Israel accountable for its violations of International Law and International Human Rights Law.
The UN’s standing and credibility have never been worse than now. The world body is being constantly humiliated by Israel, and they put up with it and they take it.