Israel treats Palestinian children as abusively as adults. Last year was no exception, nor is relief in prospect ahead. According to Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP), Israeli soldiers and other security forces killed 32 Palestinian children last year, the highest death toll in a decade. Another 82 were injured by live fire. Illegally blockaded Gazan children “slipped deeper into poverty,” some still displaced from Israel’s 2014 aggression. Record numbers of West Bank and East Jerusalem home demolitions left “(s)ignificant numbers” of children displaced. Settlement expansions continue unabated on stolen Palestinian land. Israeli detentions and abuses of Palestinian children violate core international humanitarian law. They show “no signs of abatement,” said DCIP. Nor does excessive Israeli use of force against a defenseless population, children as mistreated as adults. Evidence DCIP obtained showed most Palestinian children killed posed no threat when attacked. They were victims of unaccountable cold-blooded murder. International law prohibits lethal force except in cases of justifiable self-defense. Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy on any pretext or none at assures repeated flagrant violations. Israeli crowd control weapons caused fatalities. Faris al-Bayed, aged 15, died weeks after a rubber-coated steel bullet struck his skull. Muhyee Tabakhi, aged 10, perished from a sponge-tipped plastic bullet wound to the chest. DCIP explained so-called crowd control weapons “are only ‘less lethal’ when fired at the lower body, from a distance of 50 – 60 meters…and not aimed at children, as stipulated by Israel’s own military regulations” – systematically ignored. Soldiers shoot to kill or seriously injure with impunity. Rare exceptions prove the rule, Palestinian children targeted like adults. Abdel-Rahman al-Dabbagh, posing no threat, was struck in the head by a white flare not authorized for crowd control or dispersal, setting him ablaze. In December 2015, Israel’s live fire regulations were updated to permit it against Palestinians throwing rocks, using fireworks or slingshots, a policy aimed at harming children, adolescents and youths. DCIP explained Israel is “the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children each year in military courts lacking fundamental fair trial rights.” “Children within the Israeli military system commonly report physical and verbal abuse from the moment of their arrest, and coercion and threats during interrogations.” The Addameer Prison Support and Human Rights Association reported over 6,400 Palestinians arrested in 2016, including 1,332 children and 164 women. It explained young people are most vulnerable to Israeli abuse daily, along with former prisoners, often rearrested for political reasons. Affidavits DCIP obtained from 158 detained Palestinian children showed 62% “endured some form of physical violence following arrest and 52 percent were verbally abused, intimidated, or threatened.” Some children are administratively detained uncharged and untried for prolonged periods – based on so-called secret evidence unavailable to defense lawyers. Five of the 158 children DCIP cited were detained and abused for alleged Facebook “incitement” comments. The international community never held Israel accountable for high crimes and other serious human rights abuses. It’s free to commit them with impunity.
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