Following six days of war in June 1967, military law was imposed by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A number of military courts were established in which Palestinians violating this law could be prosecuted. Although international law does permit the establishment of military courts to prosecute civilians in limited circumstances, the authority is subject to one overriding limitation – military occupations must be temporary and cannot be maintained indefinitely.
Since 1967, over 1,700 orders have been issued by the Israeli army affecting the daily lives of 2.8 million Palestinians in the West Bank. The commanders who issue these orders have full legislative, executive and judicial authority over the Palestinian population. According to UN and Israeli sources approximately 760,000 Palestinian men, women and children have been prosecuted in these courts to date. According to the Israeli military authorities 1,004 Palestinian children from the West Bank were detained by the military in 2013, with a further 861 children detained in 2014.
During the course of the last five decades, over 200 Israeli settlements have also been established in the West Bank, which are now home to almost 400,000 Israeli citizens. A further 200,000 settlers live in East Jerusalem. The view of the international community is that these settlements are illegal
. Although technically the settlers living in the West Bank are subject to the same military law applied to Palestinians, in practice Israeli civilian law, with far greater rights and protections, is applied to this segment of the population.
The presence of settlements in the West Bank is a constant source of friction. Research
indicates that many Palestinian adults and children are arrested near Israeli settlements, which are often constructed in close proximity to Palestinian population centres. The Israeli army and military court system play a crucial role in maintaining control at these friction points.
The military courts have jurisdiction to prosecute children as young as 12 years old. The most common offence children are prosecuted for is for stone throwing. Although children
younger than 12 are sometimes detained, the army will generally release them within 12 hours. The child's journey through this military legal system is described in chronological order by following the links to the left.
Upadated: August 2016