Israeli human rights groupB’Tselem released a report Monday on the findings of a investigation into the arrest, detention and interrogation of 50 Palestinian minors detained by Israeli military forces for throwing stones. The investigation shows a pattern of consistent abuse of the rights of minors both under Israeli and international law. B’Tselem’s report into the arrest and detention of Palestinian minors on suspicion of throwing stones by Israeli forces has exposed a system of legal abuses conducted by the Israeli justice system such as beatings, forced confessions and the denial of legal representation and parental presence during interrogation.
The report was based on the testimony of 50 Palestinian minors on their experiences at the hands of the Israeli military justice system.
Thirty of the minors interviewed reported that they were taken during the middle of the night by Israeli military forces.
During the interrogation 47 stated they were not allowed adequate sleep, 23 stated they were not allowed access to the bathroom or to food or water and 19 said they were treated violently.
More broadly the report documents that at least 835 Palestinian miners were charged between 2005 and 2010 for throwing stones of which only one was acquitted.
Imprisonment was the punishment imposed in 93% of cases between 2005 and 2010. 60% of 12-14 year-olds were imprisoned despite this being illegal under Israeli law. Sentences increased with the age of the offender.
Many Palestinian minors enter into plea bargains with Israeli authorities so as to cut down on the time of their detention which is enforced throughout court proceedings.
The human rights organization stated their belief that the Military Youth Court, established in 2009 to hear the cases of Palestinian minors in the West Bank, has not alleviated the situation of accused Palestinian minors despite declarations by the court that it would rule in the spirit of Israeli youth law.
Palestinian youth are tried under adult military law which does not conform with Israeli or international standards for criminal proceedings against minors.
The treatment of Palestinian minors has twice been discussed in recent months in the British Parliament after British MP’s and Lords reported widespread human rights abuses against charged Palestinian minors similar to those reported in B’Tselem’s report following a fact finding mission to the West Bank.