UNICEF [official website] reported [text, PDF] Wednesday that Israeli practices surrounding the detention of children may violate international legal standards. The report claims approximately 700 Palestinian children are detained every year in Israeli military facilities. Further, UNICEF suggests mistreatment of these children in these facilities is "widespread, systematic and institutionalized." According to the report, the mistreatment includes:
The arrests of children at their homes between midnight and 5:00 am by heavily armed soldiers; the practice of blindfolding children and tying their hands with plastic ties; physical and verbal abuse during transfer to an interrogation site, including the use of painful restraints; lack of access to water, food, toilet facilities and medical care; interrogation using physical violence and threats; coerced confessions; and lack of access to lawyers or family members during interrogation.UNICEF argues this treatment is inconsistent with Israel's international obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [text]. The report recommends Israel come into compliance with these obligations by integrating several steps in their detention practices. Notably, UNICEF called on Israel to only arrest children during daylight hours, use strip searches with extreme caution, allow children access to their family and a lawyer during interrogations, access to medical care and releasing the location of the children to the family. Further, the UNICEF urged the Israeli military to use these detention only as a last resort and only keep these children in detention for as long as is absolutely necessary.
Last month Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called [JURIST report] Israeli airstrikes in Gaza a violation of the laws of war. In January UN rights experts concluded [JURIST report] Israeli settlements violate human rights. Last December UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk [official website] called on Israel [JURIST report] to fully implement and continue to support the recent conflict-ending ceasefire agreement with Palestinians in Gaza. In November UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] pressured Israel [JURIST report] to avoid targeting civilian structures in Gaza, expressing acute concern over the surge in the number of Palestinian civilian deaths that month. Also, last July, a UN committee raised [JURIST report] similar concerns over children detainees.