The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was ratified by Israel in 1991 and by Palestine in 2014, making both state parties bound by the obligations set out in the CRC. The CRC provides children with a distinct set of rights covering all aspects of a child’s life. The CRC applies to Palestinian children in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), which comprise the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. As the occupying state, Israel has a general responsibility under international conventions, including the CRC, for the safety, welfare and human rights protection of civilians living in the oPt.
The incidents and statistics outlined in this bulletin have principally been collated from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (in Gaza). They engage specific rights of the CRC which are also highlighted in this bulletin. Some of these incidents raise serious concerns that state parties have breached obligations to protect and realise children’s rights provided by the CRC. This includes an overarching obligation of the CRC to ensure the best interests of the child are a primary consideration in all decisions and actions that affect children.
In addition to providing a broad overview of the landscape of serious human rights incidents affecting children in the oPt over the reporting period, this specific bulletin concludes with an in-focus section that examines the continuing use of night raids on family homes to arrest children.
LPHR gives special thanks to Cormac Mannion and Sheldon Ong for their excellent work preparing this bulletin.
Eight children and a pregnant woman were killed by Israeli forces during the reporting period. Additionally, an infant died of hypothermia in Gaza.
The reporting period has seen a continuation of the shooting dead on the spot of children by Israeli forces in their response to attacks and alleged attacks against Israelis. Since 3 October 2015, a total of 48 children have been killed in the oPt and Israel in these circumstances. Six children were killed in five such incidents during the reporting period:
Israeli forces shot dead two 17-year olds, Labeeb Azem and Mohammed Zeghlawan, on 2 March in Eli settlement, southeast of Nablus. According to the Israeli military, the boys attacked with sticks a settler outside his house at 5.30am as he was about to report for Israeli military reserve duty. The settler is said to have called the Israeli forces who then chased and shot the boys dead. There are no eyewitnesses to disprove or confirm this version of events.
Israeli forces shot and killed two children who were suspected perpetrators of alleged attacks on Israelis during week of 8-14th March. 16-year-old Ahmed Yusef Isma’il Amer was killed when Israeli forces fired 20 bullets at him on 9 March. Soldiers erecting a checkpoint under al-Zawiyah village’s bridge, west of Nablus, opened fire at Ahmed after he stepped out of a vehicle and headed towards them.
Yusef Walid Mustafa Tarayrah, 17-years old, was shot dead on 14 March in Kiryat Arba, Hebron District. Yusef allegedly hit an Israeli soldier with his car. The soldier sustained light injuries.
Israeli forces shot dead a 16-year-old, ‘Abdallah Muhammad ‘Ayed Fadel ‘Ajlouni, on 19 March. According to a statement by the Israel Police Spokesperson, ‘Abdullah was shot after he stabbed a soldier who the media reported sustained light injuries.1
On 27 April, 16-year-old Ibrahim Taha and his pregnant, 23-year-old sister were shot dead next to Qalandiya checkpoint (occupied East Jerusalem), reportedly by Israeli private security personnel. The circumstances are disputed. According to Israeli sources, Ibrahim and his sister, Maram Abu Isma’il, carried knives and did not abide by the Israeli forces’ orders to stop. However, Palestinian eyewitnesses indicated that security personnel opened-fire at the woman after she mistakenly entered the vehicular lane of the checkpoint, and, subsequently, shot her brother, who rushed to assist her. Ibrahim and Maram were shot when they were 15-20 metres from the security guards. B’Tselem reports that the two were killed ‘without any justification, when they clearly no longer posed mortal danger and could be stopped without killing them’. Red Crescent personnel were not permitted to treat the pair and according to eyewitness accounts, an Israeli ambulance arrived but did not treat the injured.
In addition to fatal shootings:
On 12 March, 9-year old and 6-year old siblings, Yasin and Israa’ Abu Khousa, were killed while sleeping in their beds in Gaza when an Israeli airstrike targeted a military training site near their home, causing debris to fall on and collapse their roof. LPHR’s two recent urgent action letters to the Foreign Secretary concerning this incident and placing it in the context of Israel’s pattern of deliberate and or reckless military airstrikes against family homes in Gaza can be seen here.
On 29 March, an infant died due to hypothermia and a sibling was found in critical condition in Gaza. The children and their family are one of 1,150 families residing in temporary shelters and caravans donated as humanitarian aid to those whose homes were destroyed during the July-August 2014 bombing of Gaza.
In April, the Israeli Military Advocate General (MAG) announced the closure of the investigation against a senior military officer who, on 3 July 2015, shot and killed a 17-year-old Palestinian, Muhammad ‘Ali-Kosba suspected of throwing stones at his vehicle. The MAG accepted the officer’s claim that he had aimed at the youth’s legs but missed and hit him three times in the upper body, including in the head. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem condemned the decision, citing it as evidence of ‘the investigative system’s willingness to ignore the law… in the interest of providing impunity to members of the security forces who unlawfully killed Palestinians’. The Israeli military is required under its military law to open a fact-finding investigation after every killing. A decision is then made as to whether to conduct a full criminal investigation. The rarity of charges being brought against soldiers through this process has led to B’Tselem describing the military investigation system as a ‘Fig Leaf’.
Article 6(1) of the CRC states that every child has the inherent right to life. Any incident where a Palestinian child is killed involves a grave violation of their right to live, survive and develop healthily under Article 6 of the CRC. Part of providing meaningful protection under the CRC involves review of and accountability for child deaths. To fulfil its obligations under international law, it is necessary that Israel opens credible investigations into each of the killings above. Given B’Tselem’s powerful critique of the credibility of Israel’s military investigation process for the killing of Palestinians by Israeli military forces, there is a substantial concern that Israel is breaching this grave ‘right to life’ obligation under the CRC.
Article 40 of the CRC deals with approaches to children who are alleged to have breached criminal law, and outlines a number of due process rights afforded to children. Article 40 states: ‘State Parties recognise the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognised as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child’s respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and which takes into account the child’s age and the desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in society.’ When read in conjunction with Article 6(2), which provides that State Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child, it is abundantly clear that a suspected policy or practice of extrajudicial killings of individuals, including children, who are not posing an imminent, mortal threat would amount to a significant violation of the CRC. LPHR’s recent blog article on the legality of extrajudicial killings can be read here.
At least 146 Palestinian children and 3 Israeli children were injured across the oPt.
Most injuries occurred during clashes with Israeli forces during demonstrations and search and arrest operations. Injuries included:
The above-mentioned airstrike on 12 March saw the siblings (aged 2 and 12-years-old) of Yasin and Israa’ injured in the same incident. Another child was also injured in a separate airstrike on the same day.
A nine-year-old child was injured during a search and arrest operation in Jit village (Qalqiliya).
In Ramallah on 28 April, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl was shot and injured during an alleged attempt to stab Israeli soldiers. The girl and her friend were arrested, and no injuries to Israeli soldiers were reported.
20 children were injured across the oPt during clashes with Israeli forces between 26 April-2 May. Most of these clashes erupted during protests, including the weekly demonstration in Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya), protests in Abu Dis (Jerusalem), and in Al Jalazun refugee camp (Ramallah) against the recent killing of Palestinians; and demonstrations near the fence separating Gaza and Israel. In one incident, a 10-year-old boy was injured after an Israeli jeep hit him near Al Khader School (Bethlehem).
An Israeli infant was injured when the car in which he was travelling was stoned, near the settlement of Efrata (Bethlehem).
On 28 April, a 17-year-old sustained a bullet wound to the left thigh when Israeli forces opened fire at dozens of Palestinian youngsters protesting against Israeli forces’ incursion in Nablus to protect hundreds of settlers who raided ‘Joseph Tomb’, east of Nablus. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reports that at approximately 02:00am Israeli forces accompanied with military jeeps moved into Nablus. A group of children gathered and threw stones at the Israeli jeeps. Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters, sound bombs and live bullets at the children. A 17-year-old was hit with a live bullet to his left thigh.
During the week of 8-14 March, clashes with Israeli forces resulted in the injury of 119 Palestinians, including 28 children. Over 40% of the total injuries were reported in a single incident near Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem. Some 70% of injuries were caused by tear gas inhalation requiring medical treatment, and the rest by rubber bullets, live ammunition and physical assault.
In March, a 15-year-old child was injured as a result of tampering with unexploded ordnance left behind by Israeli forces during military training near the herding community of Ibziq (Tubas).
In one week in April, 104 Palestinians, including 17 children, were injured by Israeli forces, the majority in clashes during demonstrations. The largest number of injuries in a single incident (45 injuries) was recorded in Nablus when Israeli forces intervened in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers when the latter marched towards a Palestinian village, reportedly in solidarity with an Israeli settler being prosecuted for a July 2015 arson attack that resulted in the deaths of three members of a Palestinian family.
On 18 April, two Israeli children were injured following an explosion in an Israeli public transportation bus in East Jerusalem. A 19-year-old Palestinian, from Ayda Refugee Camp (Bethlehem), suspected of detonating a device on the bus, was also injured, and later died of his wounds.
The week of 12-18 April saw 70 Palestinians, including 24 children, injured during clashes with Israeli forces. Most of these clashes erupted during protests, including against the fencing of a road serving settlements in the Salfit governorate, which separates Palestinian farmers from their land.
Article 15(1) of the CRC provides for the rights of the child to freedom of peaceful assembly. Article 3(2) of the CRC affords children with the protection and care necessary for their well-being.
Incidents of settler violence affecting Palestinian children included:
Three arson attacks on homes occurred in March. One arson attack on a home in Duma village (Nablus) injured the only eyewitness to the arson attack in the same village, in July 2015, which killed an 18 month old baby and his parents. Additionally, an arson attack on a house near Al Khadr village in Bethlehem (the second attack in a week) occurred during the week of 8-14 March.
In March, 6-year-old child was injured in a hit and run incident by a suspected Israeli settler, on Road 60 near the junction leading to Yatta town (Hebron).
In early April, a Palestinian girl was injured in a hit and run incident by an Israeli settler vehicle in Hebron.
Between 19-25 April, two Palestinians, including a child, were injured, one critically, after being run over by Israeli-plated vehicles.
During the week of 29 March-4 April, at least three incidents of intimidation were recorded, involving the eviction of shepherds, including two children, from grazing land near Israeli settlements.
Unimpeded regular occurrences of violence against Palestinian families suggests that Article 3(2) of the CRC, which provides that states should ensure the protection and care of children as is necessary for their well-being, is being breached. Furthermore, Article 39 of the CRC stipulates that states should take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of abuse and that such recovery and reintegration should take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.
There were at least 736 military incursions into the West Bank and 19 incursions into Gaza during the reporting period. These incursions saw approximately 114 children arrested, many during night raids on family homes. A further 5 children were arrested at military checkpoints. Additionally, a child was arrested after attempting to cross the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel to look for work.
Between 19-25 April, Israeli forces conducted 74 search and arrest operations and arrested 132 Palestinians in the West Bank, with the Jerusalem governorate accounting for the highest portion of arrests (including 19 children), mainly in the Old City of Jerusalem and Al ‘Isawiya neighbourhood. The Hebron governorate accounted for the highest number of search and arrest operations (20).
Between 27 April-2 May, Israeli forces conducted 45 search and arrest operations, arresting 10 children in the Jerusalem governorate.
Incidents of children arrested in night-time raids on their homes included:
On 1 May, at approximately 01:00am, Israeli forces accompanied with dozens of bulldozers moved into al-‘Issawiyah village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem. They raided and searched houses, arresting three children aged 14, 15 and 17).
On 1 March, between 2.15-2.30am, three 16-year olds were arrested during night raids on their homes in Qalqilia and al-Yamoun villages.
On 2 March at 2:00am, two children (aged 13 and 17-years-old) were arrested and another 17-year-old handed a summons to report to the Israeli intelligence service. At 4.30pm on the same day, another child was arrested.
On 5 March, a child was arrested in Bethlehem during a 1:00am house raid. On the same day, at approximately 20:00, Israeli forces moved into Kufor Qaddoum village, northeast of Qalqilia. They raided and searched several houses, arresting two 17-year olds and taking them to an unknown destination.
On 6 March, at approximately 02:30am, Israeli forces moved into Beit Ommar village, north of Hebron. They raided and searched several houses, arrested three children and took them to an unknown destination.
On 7 March, at approximately 01:30am, Israeli forces moved into al-Aroob refugee camp, north of Hebron where they raided and searched two houses, arresting two 15-year-olds and taking them to an unknown destination.
Additionally, four children were arrested during clashes that erupted on 29 April when, after Friday prayers, Israeli soldiers stationed at al-Aqsa Mosque denied worshipers access to the mosque and searched and arrested dozens of Palestinian young men there. An eyewitness said that Israeli forces beat up youngsters when they exited the mosque.
Disruption to education included:
The Bedouin community of Khirbet Tana’s only school was demolished by Israeli forces.
On 7 March at approximately 23:20, Israeli forces moved into Beit Ommar village, north of Hebron. They raided Beit Ommar Orphanage, breaking the doors. They also raided the Orphanage’s kindergarten, school and administration building, and confiscated a number of orphans’ files and four computer hard disks from the accounting and secretary offices.
19 female students were treated for tear gas inhalation during two separate clashes that took place next to their school in Hebron city and in Jaba’ village (Jenin).
Israeli forces raided Palestine Technical University in Tulkarm twice in one week in March.
The week of 22-28 March saw 33 Palestinians, including 15 children injured during clashes with Israeli forces. The majority of injuries were recorded during search and arrest operations, including raids into the Arab American University of Jenin and a primary school in Tell village (Nablus), all of which involved property damage and the confiscation of computers and documents.
The week of 22-28 March saw 33 Palestinians, including 15 children injured during clashes with Israeli forces. The majority of injuries were recorded during search and arrest operations, including raids into the Arab American University of Jenin and a primary school in Tell village (Nablus), all which involved property damage and the confiscation of computers and documents.
Article 28 of the CRC recognises that education should be accessible to all children on the basis of equal opportunity, obliging Israel to ensure that children in the oPt have unrestricted access to education. The aforementioned raids, and demolition of a school suggest that Israeli forces have breached Article 28 of the CRC.
DISPLACEMENT & DEMOLITIONS
209 children were displaced and at least 127 affected by demolitions and forced displacements. Approximately 271 Palestinian owned structures were demolished.
The total number of demolitions carried out between 1 January-2 May 2016 (597) is more than the total demolished for the whole of 2015 (547).
Between 1 January- 25 April 2016, Israeli authorities demolished or sealed on punitive grounds 13 homes and other structures, displacing 32 children. This practice runs contrary to a number of provisions in international law, including the prohibition on collective penalties. In November 2015, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the oPt called for an end to the practice, noting that ‘punitive demolitions are a form of collective penalty, which are prohibited under international law.’
Punitive demolitions and displacements included:
On 10 March 2016, the Israeli authorities forced the family of a suspected perpetrator of a shooting attack to leave occupied East Jerusalem. The attack, which had taken place two days before, resulted in the injury of two Israeli border policemen and the killing of the suspected perpetrator.
In Hebron city in March, Israeli authorities demolished the family home of the perpetrator of an attack that took place in November 2015, displacing a family of six, including three children. Additionally, the homes of perpetrators of three other attacks were issued punitive demolition orders or underwent preliminary surveys.
The Israeli authorities forced the family (10 people including seven children) of an alleged perpetrator of an attack against Israelis out of occupied East Jerusalem, and informed them that their family unification application was rejected.
On 31 March and 4 April, the Israeli authorities carried out four punitive demolitions in Hebron city and Jenin against the family homes of the suspected perpetrators of two attacks that took place in December 2015 and February 2016. Seven children were displaced as a result. Additionally, three adjacent structures sustained damage and 15 injuries were recorded during clashes that erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces during two of the demolitions.
Other demolitions and displacements included:
In March, 77 children were displaced as a result of the demolition or confiscation of 176 structures.
One Bedouin community suffered three waves of demolitions during the reporting period. On 2 March 2016, Israeli forces almost entirely destroyed the Palestinian Bedouin community of Khirbet Tana in Nablus, which is located in a ‘firing zone’. 41 structures including the community’s only school, 10 residential tents and six livestock tents were demolished, affecting 29 children. Khirbet Tana was demolished twice more during the reporting period. In April, 49 children from the community were displaced by demolitions. The community has suffered demolitions four times since the beginning of 2016. Following a visit to this community, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the oPt, Robert Piper, warned of the risk of forcible transfer facing the community.
One week in March saw Israeli authorities demolish 60 structures including 19 which had been provided as humanitarian assistance in response to previous demolitions. 40 children were displaced. All but two of these structures were located in areas designated as ‘firing zones’ for military training, which cover 30% of Area C.
A playground in Silwan village (occupied East Jerusalem) was demolished, reportedly to make way for the confiscation of 14 dunums of privately owned Palestinian land for the benefit of the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority.
During the week of 29 March-4 April, Israeli authorities demolished 36 structures due to the lack of Israeli-issued building permits. 28 Palestinians, including 11 children, were displaced and 110 others were affected. Of the total, four structures were donor-funded.
On 1 April, Israeli forces took over an inhabited house in Ya’bad village (Jenin) and converted it into a military observation point, affecting 19 children.
159 Palestinians, including 75 children, were displaced and 326 others were otherwise affected between 5-11 April when Israeli authorities demolished 71 structures due to a lack of Israeli-issued building permits, including 23 structures that had been provided as humanitarian assistance. 31 of the children were displaced by the demolition of 16 structures across five Bedouin communities in the Jerusalem governorate, in an area allocated for the expansion of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement. The expansion would create a continuous built up area between this settlement and occupied East Jerusalem.
Land and livelihood related structures continue to be demolished or confiscated throughout the reporting period. Depriving families of their agricultural livelihoods is likely to entrench poverty and directly impact on children’s welfare. Incidents included:
On 10 March 2016, the Israeli authorities declared 2,342 dunums of land south of Jericho city as ‘state land’. Nearly all ‘state land’ in Area C of the West Bank has been placed under the jurisdiction of Israeli settlements. Following this declaration, the UN Secretary General urged Israel to halt settlement activities.
In an Area C part of Qalqiliya city, the Israeli authorities demolished three livelihood-related structures and confiscated two water tanks on the grounds that they lacked Israeli-issued permits. As a result, 10 Palestinian refugee families, including 32 children, were affected.
On 4 March, Israeli forces levelled 10 dunums of agricultural in al-Zeyaq area, east of Deir Ballout village, west of Salfit, to be annexed to ‘Leshem’ settlement. Reportedly, Israeli forces levelled the land although the Israeli Supreme Court issued a decision to stop construction works.
During the week of 12-18 April, 108 children were affected by the demolition of seven structures by the Israeli authorities on the basis of a lack of Israeli-issued building permits. These included three residential houses under construction in Bethlehem; two livelihood structures in Jenin and a donor-funded park in Nablus.
Israeli forces confiscated around 160 sheep on the grounds that they were grazing near the 1949 Armistice Line.
In the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, the Israeli authorities delivered at least 30 stop work and demolition orders, most of them in an area planned by the Jerusalem Municipality for a tourist complex. If the plan goes ahead, more than 1000 Palestinians, residing in approximately 90 houses, will lose their homes. Palestinian residents of Silwan suffer from overcrowding, inadequate services, and threat of demolition and displacement due to unauthorized construction.
On 17 February, the Coordinator for Humanitarian and UN Development Activities for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), Robert Piper, called for an immediate halt to the destruction of Palestinian-owned property in the West Bank and for respect for international law.
Article 27 of the CRC protects children in terms of their standard of living, and seeks to ensure that this standard is adequate with respect to the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. It further adds that State Parties are responsible for taking appropriate measures to provide assistance in respect to nutrition, clothing and housing. The actions of the Israeli government in rendering children and their parents homeless and disrupting families’ livelihoods, clearly violate both the letter and the spirit of Article 27 of the CRC. Furthermore, Article 16(1) of the CRC states that no child should be subjected to arbitrary interference with his or her privacy or family.
Continuing use of night raids of family homes to arrest children.
In March 2013, UNICEF published a detailed review of Israeli practices related to children who come into contact with the military detention system. Their review considered whether the military detention system conformed to the requirements of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), ratified by Israel in August 1991. Of particular concern was adherence to Article 37 (b) of the CRC, which provides:
‘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 period of time.’
Article 3.1 of the CRC was also of paramount importance, which states:
In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.’
Given the specific requirements of these CRC obligations, a key point of concern raised by the UNICEF report was the prevalence of night arrests of children in the oPt. Based on interviews conducted with children, the report found that “the common experience of many children is being aggressively awakened in the middle of the night by many armed soldiers and being forcibly brought to an interrogation centre tied and blindfolded, sleep deprived and in a state of extreme fear.” The report identifies the practice of night arrests as part of the ”ill-treatment” of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system, which it concluded is “widespread, systematic and institutionalized.” The report goes on to provide a list of fourteen recommendations of reforms that might be made to bring the Israeli military detention system in line with international law. One such recommendation was that “All arrests of children should be conducted during daylight, notwithstanding exceptional and grave situations.” This is a clear repudiation from UNICEF of the practice of night arrests of children in the oPt.
In February 2015, UNICEF issued an update on the conditions for Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system. The UNICEF update noted with approval the introduction in February 2014 of a pilot programme to issue written summonses in lieu of arrests (a measure suggested more than two years previously in a UK government funded independent report by a delegation of British lawyers). However, UNICEF noted shortcomings of the pilot programme, and made a number of recommendations to improve the programme in the short-term, including the following: always provide the parents with written summons in a language they understand specifying the reasons for the summons; allow parents to be present during interrogation; and, refrain from delivering summonses at night as part of a military operation. UNICEF’s concerns with the pilot programme were corroborated by research conducted by Military Court Watch (MCW) published in October 2015, which found that in every documented case of a summons in lieu of arrest, the summons was delivered by the military after midnight. Clearly, households woken at night by soldiers issuing summonses are likely to experience similar levels of anxiety and disruption as when they are woken at night by soldiers conducting night arrests. MCW also found that key parts of the summons were written in Hebrew with no Arabic translation and often lacked any description of the nature of the accusation.
According to MCW the pilot seems to have been suspended in September 2014 and then recommenced in early 2015. During the period when the pilot was initially active (February – September 2014), the military authorities have stated that they did not keep any statistics on the programme, raising questions of how any internal monitoring or assessment of the programme could be made MCW’s research found that the military used summonses in approximately only 9% of its documented cases. The latest MCW research, published in March 2016, suggests that Israeli authorities have yet to seriously act on the UNICEF update’s recommendations. According to its research, in 2015 summonses in lieu of arrest were issued in roughly 10% of documented cases. In the vast majority of these cases the summons was delivered by the military after midnight, and relevant parts of the summonses were still in Hebrew without Arabic translation. Relevant information, such as the nature of the accusation and reference to the child’s legal rights was not included in any of the summonses.
This latest research from MCW suggests that international law protecting children’s rights and the UNICEF’s 2013 recommendations regarding night-time arrests are being largely ignored by officials operating Israel’s military detention system. The pilot programme begun in February 2014 to address the problem is flawed, opaque (results are apparently not even monitored yet alone published and made publicly available) and inconsistently and narrowly applied. In a severe indictment of the Israeli response to the UNICEF 2013 recommendations, not only does the practice of night arrests of children in the oPt continue, it appears to be marginally more prevalent now than prior to the UNICEF report. In cases documented by MCW, 51% of children arrested in 2013 were arrested at night, compared to 59% in 2015 and 54% so far in 2016.
This apparent failure by Israeli authorities to reduce night arrests has led MCW to posit that night-time arrests of children are being retained as a tool to intimidate and control parts of the Palestinian population in the oPt, especially those located near Israeli settlements, to ensure the continued viability of settlement activity in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. The reporting in this Bulletin of a number of search and arrest operations in occupied East Jerusalem and Hebron, where there are large settlement populations and plans for new settlements, add weight to this argument. Indeed, the Israeli whistleblowing organization, Breaking the Silence, argues that night raids are a “demonstration of presence” for the purposes of intimidation and are used “to punish, deter, or tighten control over the Palestinian population” rather than to deal with criminal offences.
Article 37(b) of the CRC allows for arrests of children only as a ‘last resort’, and the recommendation in the 2013 UNICEF report does not consider there to be any situation in which a night arrest should take place. MCW research in 2015 found that in 35% of documented night arrests, the child was released within a few days without charge. This finding casts serious doubt on whether these cases met the requirements of Article 37(b) of the CRC, and whether the best interests of the child was the primary consideration of the Israeli military authorities in deciding to make the night-time arrest (Art 3.1. CRC).
Article 37(c) states ‘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 the persons of his or her age.’ As previously outlined, military search and arrest raids on homes are often violent, dramatic and degrading. The likely trauma and disruption caused by arrest raids are well illustrated by a former Israeli soldier’s testimony in which he describes one arrest raid: the video testimony can be watched here.
LPHR raised the critical issue of night-time arrests in its comprehensive briefing for the 06 January 2016 parliamentary debate on Palestinian children in Israeli military detention. Our concerns were raised by parliamentarians to the Foreign Office minister, Tobias Ellwood MP, during the debate, and LPHR has subsequently reiterated its concerns in private meetings with the Foreign Office. We will continue to urge for the immediate end of the terrifying practice of night-time arrest raids against Palestinian children in apparent breach of international law.