The continuous detention of Palestinian children by Israel is condemned by UN officials, who say that the practice has become systematic and widely spread. Human rights council presented with various UN reports indicate the worsening living conditions over the past year in Palestine across the West Bank and Gaza. The report also includes the fact that the children are bearing the burden of the Israeli occupation, said by the UN deputy high commissioner for human rights, Kate Gilmore.
On Tuesday in Geneva, Gilmore spoke the following as he addressed the council, “the past year saw hundreds of Palestinian children detained by Israel, some without charge under administrative detention, the impact of the conflict on the lives of children is entirely unacceptable. In this year alone, six children have been shot and killed in the context of protests.” The special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestine territories, Michael Lynk also highlighted that the deteriorating situation for Palestinian children is disturbing. She said, “the deprivation of liberty of Palestinian children by Israel is institutionalized, systematic, and widely spread, half a century of occupation has taken a heavy toll on the human rights of virtually every Palestinian, regardless of where in the occupied territory they reside, the feelings of despair among Palestinians in the face of these developments cannot be overstated.”
The UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child exposes that the incarceration of children should be the last resort, meaning that the imprisoning of those children is unlawful. In recent years, there has been a series of human rights violations committed by Israel. These include the home demolitions, forced evictions, restricted access to services, restrictions on freedom of movement, threats of violence at the hand of settlers and strict residency regime for Palestinian residents. However, Israel’s main allies US and UK have always boycotted the debate on the human rights violations. This has allowed continuous violence against the Arab and Palestinian women, men, and children by government officials, politicians, Israeli Jews, and settlers. However, it is very rare to see those perpetrators been penalized, in a system that often invokes national security to justify its acts of violence.
Most of the findings of the violations mentioned in the council come from the six reports of monitoring work undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the occupied Palestinian territories. In November 2017, 729 children were detained in East Jerusalem and 313 Palestinian minors were imprisoned. Most of the children are detained due to stone throwing and any Facebook posts that the Israeli authorities might not like. The children presented before the court are forced to sign confession documents which are in Hebrew that most Palestinian children do not speak, and they lack fundamental fair trial rights. It is also reported that minors detained are tortured, including beatings and sexual assaults.
The Balfour’s declaration of founding the state of Israel was then justified by the horrors of the Holocaust, the world was sympathetic to the Jews but did not look at what Palestinians paid for the crime they did not commit. This should no longer be the case, in these times it would be an injustice to continue to ignore the suffering of Palestinian people who once welcomed the Jews to their land, who were as desperate as they are now. The Balfour declaration then recognized only the rights of the Israelis who claimed the land. This should not be repeated as the creation of independent Palestinian state is equally justified. Israelis need to understand this, and peace could only be built between them by sharing the land both sides claim. Only then we would see the children in schools instead of prisons.