Most recently on April 21 soldiers arrested a 15-year-old boy who was playing outside the Ibrahimi Mosque. According to witnesses the boy sustained serious injuries to his face during the arrest and was bleeding heavily when soldiers took him into custody. They boy was play fighting with friends at the time of the arrest and soldiers claimed that he had a knife, however witnesses say no knife was used or displayed. He remains in the Israeli military prison at Ofer.
On the same day soldiers in Hebron detained an eight year old boy for one hour, claiming that he walked on Shuhada street, a Hebron street closed to Palestinian residents and available only to Israeli settlers.
Most of the children arrested and detained have been released. However another boy, age 16, who was arrested on April 17,also remains in custody in Ofer military prison. He was arrested in the public square near the Hebron Municipality at the entrance to the Old City, where witnesses said he was not committing any crime at the time of his arrest. He is developmentally disabled and takes medication. His family remains extremely concerned that he is not receiving his regular medication while in Ofer.
International human rights workers in Hebron recently released a report documenting an emerging crisis of abuse of human rights of children in Hebron. The report, Occupied Childhoods, includes documentation by international human rights workers of 47 arrests of children in Hebron during February, March and early April of this year.
The report calls upon Duty Bearers to assure the human rights of children are respected. As Occupying Power the State of Israel is responsible for abiding by international law and for protecting the specific rights of children. Rights workers in Hebron call upon relevant UN agencies and NGOs to carry out their mandate by providing protection for children, and to pressure the State of Israel to change its policy vis-à-vis children in the Old City and H2.
In releasing the report human rights workers in Hebron have call upon consulates, churches and human rights organizations to formally protest the human rights crisis faced by children in Hebron and demand that the rights of children be protected. Full report available at : https://cptpalestine.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/occupied-childhoods-impact-of-the-actions-of-israeli-soldiers-on-palestinian-children-in-h2-during-february-march-and-april-20131.pdf
The recent arrests of children in Hebron by Israeli soldiers constitute clear violations of children’s rights under international law, which clearly holds state parties responsible for assuring the rights of children as defined by Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child:
- No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
- No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.
- Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. In particular, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child’s best interest not to do so and shall have the right to maintain contact with his or her family.
- Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.
According to UNICEF, (Children in Israeli Military Detention; Observations and Recommendations, February 2013) approximately 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17 are arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli army, police and security agents each year in the OPT. In the past 10 years approximately 7000 children have been detained, interrogated, prosecuted and/or imprisoned within the Israeli military justice system. This is an average of two children each day.