Wednesday, 6 March 2013

UNICEF: Israel mistreats Palestinian children in custody


JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military are subject to widespread, systematic ill-treatment that violates international law, a UNICEF report said on Wednesday.

The United Nations Children Fund estimated that 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17, most of them boys, are arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli military, police and security agents every year in the occupied West Bank.

According to the report, most of the youths are arrested for throwing stones. Israel says it takes such incidents seriously, noting that rock-throwing has caused Israeli deaths.

UNICEF said it had identified some examples of practices that "amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture".

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said officials from the ministry and the Israeli military had cooperated with UNICEF in its work on the report, with the goal of improving the treatment of Palestinian minors in custody.

"Israel will study the conclusions and will work to implement them through ongoing cooperation with UNICEF, whose work we value and respect," he said.

According to the report, ill-treatment of Palestinian minors typically begins with the arrest itself, often carried out in the middle of the night by heavily armed soldiers, and continues all the way through prosecution and sentencing. more

Report: Israeli army to use live fire against fireworks protesters


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces will respond to fireworks shot toward them with live ammunition at the lower legs of protesters, an army official said Tuesday.

"Palestinian protestors are increasingly shooting fireworks recently. These fireworks can cause severe burns or blindness in case of a direct hit," an army official told Israel's Maariv newspaper.

"We see these as dangerous weapons rather than toys," he said. "Palestinians don't use guns because they know our response, so they use it as an alternative and we can not allow that because when fired at a close range they can do serious damage."

Maariv described the fireworks, adapted to be let off through metal pipes, as a new symbol in the latest wave of protests.

It said an incident at Qalandia checkpoint, in which a Palestinian protester was shot dead by Israeli forces, was the catalyst for the Israeli army's decision to respond to fireworks in the same way soldiers respond to Molotov cocktails, by shooting at protesters' lower bodies.

Soldiers thought the protester was firing a gun, but he was actually shooting fireworks, it said. more