The arrest, detention and mistreatment of Palestinian minors by Israeli authorities has been well documented by international agencies such as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).1
It is reported that approximately 500-700 Palestinian children are arrested and prosecuted in the Israeli Military Court System every year.
Exasperated by this ongoing violation of human rights by Israeli authorities, MPG’s ‘ambassador’ in Tasmania, Jo Errey, decided to raise her concerns with her local member, Andrew Wilkie MP.
As a result of Jo’s activism, Andrew Wilkie subsequently wrote to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop MP. In this letter, he urged the Australian government “to put whatever pressure it can on the Israeli authorities to guarantee that Palestinian children are protected from discrimination and ill-treatment.” Refer to the full letter here.
Andrew Wilkie’s letter is but a recent attempt to draw the Australian government’s attention to this abuse. Other notable efforts to highlight this abuse include the ABC’s Four Corners program ‘Stone Cold Justice’ presented by Middle East correspondent, John Lyons, back in February 2014.
It is worth quoting from the program’s introduction:
“A new generation of hatred in the making … Imagine in a major Australian city or in any other civilized society, regular late-night raids on family homes by heavily armed soldiers to take away children in blindfolds and handcuffs for interrogation. Imagine a military prison where the inmates include children as young as 12, in shackles. Such is the distortion of life … after more than 40 years of military occupation.”
Among the many abuses depicted, the documentary includes clear evidence of the following:
- Night-time arrests by heavily armed soldiers;
- Israeli soldiers and police firing tear-gas canisters at children walking to and from school;
- Youngsters 5 and 6 years old being taken into custody;
- Deliberations lasting less than a minute in military courts connected with remanding children in custody;
- Israeli settlers attacking Palestinian children without any provocation while soldiers stand by and watch.2
Reports indicate that the systematic intimidation and violence outlined above has increased in recent years. The Turnbull Coalition Government needs to match its rhetoric about human rights and international standards and put pressure on the extremist military occupation government of Benjamin Netanyahu to end its abuse of Palestinian children.
In doing so, Australia should also join the international consensus in condemning Israel’s illegal settlement program in the Occupied Territories and call for meaningful negotiations leading to Palestinian self-determination.
- UNICEF, Children in Israeli Military Detention, Observations and Recommendations, Bulletin No. 2: Feb 2015.
- French Intellectuals’ Statement on Palestinian Child Detainees Published in ‘Le Monde’, The Palestine Chronicle, Jan 23, 2018.
- Human Rights Watch, ‘Palestinian Girl’s Detention Raises Rights Concerns’, Feb 12, 2018.
- Also refer to Breaking the Silence, an organisation of veterans who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories.
2. A transcript of the documentary can be found here.