Evidence update: reports of physical violence at all-time highs
[8 September 2022] – In 2013, following an extensive review of the treatment of children held in Israeli military detention, UNICEF concluded that the: "ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and instutionalized." At the time of UNICEF's review, children reported experiencing some form of physical violence in 60 percent of cases (602 children), during their arrest, transfer and/or interrogation.[i] The most common form of abuse included: slapping, punching, kicking and striking with rifle butts.
Almost a decade later, reports of physical violence are at an all-time high now occurring in 73 percent of cases. It is estimated that since UNICEF issued its report in 2013, between 3,285 and 6,570 children would have experienced some form of physical violence following their arrest.[ii] Although UNICEF recommended the establishment of an independent investigation into these reports, no meaningful progress has occurred and efforts to seek accountability are being actively blocked by the US, Germany, UK, Canada and Australia - eroding confidence in a genuine "rules-based order".[iii]
It should be noted that the data on physical violence does not include the prevalent use of painful hand-ties, blindfolds, transfer on the metal floor of military vehicles or solitary confinement which are recorded as separate categories.[iv]Some recent examples of reported physical violence include the following:
A.M.H.S. (16 yrs) - "The jeep drove to a military base where the soldiers left me on a metal chair in a corridor. A masked man accused me of being a member of Hamas and slapped and kicked me as he passed by. The other soldiers saw him but didn't do anything except one soldier who told him to stop. When that soldier left the masked person beat me again." (29 April 2022)
J.M.D.Z. (17 yrs) - "Then the jeep drove me to the police station in Etzion settlement. On the way soldiers swore at me and one soldier struck me on my head with the back of his gun and on my leg and waist. I was in pain. When we arrived at Etzion I was in such pain that they took me to a hospital inside Israel. I spent about five hours at the hospital." (25 Apr 2022)
I.J.I.M. (14 yrs) - "I was grabbed by Israeli soldiers during clashes at a military checkpoint. It was around 4:00 p.m. They fired a stun grenade and live bullets in my direction. I was shot in the knee cap and fell to the ground bleeding. A soldier swore at me and slapped me. I was in shock. I was terrified and thought I was going to die when I saw the amount of blood." (20 Apr 2022)
A.A.I.A. (17 yrs) - "The soldiers pushed me into the back of the jeep and made me sit on the metal floor. Soldiers inside the jeep beat me all over my body. They slapped me and beat me with the back of their guns. I was in pain and could not take it. They made fun of my mother and repeated what she had told them in the house that I had done nothing wrong." (19 Jan 2022)
I.K.M.T. (15 yrs) - "At Etzion settlement I was given a quick medical examination. The doctor asked me to sign a document and when I refused a soldier slapped me. Then they replaced the hand ties with metal handcuffs and took me to a cell where I spent a whole day. At around 10:00 a.m. the following day I was taken for interrogation." (10 Jan 2022)
M.A.M.I. (17 yrs) - "Then they took me outside where a soldier tied my hands to the front with two plastic ties on top of each other. The ties were painful and when I asked them to loosen them they refused. Then they blindfolded me and took me to a military jeep. A soldier swore at me and made me sit on the metal floor. When I asked to sit on a seat he slapped me." (23 Dec 2021)
M.N.J.H. (16 yrs) - "I was walking with friends by Route 60 when Israeli soldiers ambushed us. Two soldiers grabbed me and beat me. They led me away while still beating me. We walked for an hour. My eye swelled and I bled from my nose and cheek. I was in pain and could no longer walk. The soldiers called an ambulance because I was bleeding heavily." (29 Oct 2021)
M.S.M.Z. (17 yrs) - "Then the interrogator turned off the camera and voice recorder and slapped, punched and swore at me. He also threatened to lock me up for a long time if I did not cooperate. I was tired and sleep deprived as I hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours. I continued to deny the accusation but then I gave him the names of my friends because I was exhausted." (17 Oct 2021)
K.I.K.H. (17 yrs) - "At the military watchtower soldier tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie which was tight and painful. I was left by the watchtower for about an hour. During this time a soldier hit me on the head. He also kicked me in my genitals and caused me severe pain. My parents came and tried to intervene but they did not succeed." (11 September 2021)
M.S.N.A. (16 yrs) - "I was put in the back of a jeep where I sat on the metal floor. Inside the jeep soldiers struck me with the back of their guns on my back and broke a rib. I found it hard to breathe. They took me to the nearby military base near the entrance to my village. Then I was left on the floor of a shipping container for three days." (31 Aug 2021)
In 2013 UNICEF noted that: "The analysis of the cases monitored by UNICEF identified examples of practices that amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture." A decade on it remains unrealistic to anticipate any substantive improvement in the absence of genuine accountability based on the rule of law.
· Evidence update: Floor transfer
· Evidence update: Night arrests and summonses
· Evidence update: Forcible transfer of children
· Evidence update: Solitary confinement
[i] According to Israel's then military prosecutor in the West Bank, 1,004 Palestinian children were detained by the Israeli military in the West Bank in 2013. This data was provided by Lt.-Col. Maurice Hirsch, at Ofer Military Court on 26 February 2014 and to UNICEF prior to February 2015. Based on evidence collected that year, 60 percent of the children detained reported being subjected to some form of physical abuse - excluding hand-ties, blindfolds and transfer on the metal floor of military vehicles.
[ii] This estimate is based on an annual child detention rate of between 500-1,000 children and a constant rate of reported physical violence of 73 percent.
[iii] Biden officials privately pushed Abbas to shelve ICC probe against Israel (https://is.gd/O7jWg2); German Foreign Minister says ICC has no jurisdiction over Palestinian Territories (https://is.gd/SAe8lc); UK government rejects ICC jurisdiction (https://is.gd/5RU5Tc); Statement by Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs on International Criminal Court's decision regarding jurisdiction over West Bank and Gaza (https://is.gd/xxGGWh); Australian government tells ICC it should not investigate alleged war crimes in Palestine (https://is.gd/1nXoYK); and ICC member states agree to give advance warning to Israel (https://is.gd/YoZGjF).