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Nablus / Amin Abu Wardeh - The Global Movement for the Defense of Children’s Palestine Branch reports that Israeli imprisonment of Palestinian children is up.
Over the past two months Israeli forces have increased campaigns against children. At the end of February 2009 the number of Palestinian children detained in Israeli prisons was up to 423. This is the highest number since the beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada in 2000.
It is not just that the number is increasing, reports Defense of Children, the age is getting younger. During the first two months of the year 2009 the arrest of 10 children aged 12 and 13 is documented. Throughout 2008 three Palestinians aged 12 and 13 were arrested. Defense of Children says there is a “dangerous escalation in Israeli policy of targeting younger Palestinian children.”
Since the beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada, the occupying Israeli authorities arrested approximately 6,700 Palestinian children. Currently there are 423 still in Israeli prisons. Their ages range from 12 through 17. Among the kids are six girls and six being held under Administrative Detention, meaning without charge or trial.
Detained children are subjected to torture, humiliation and cruel treatment during arrest and interrogation, states Defense of Children. These patterns are being employed to destroy the morale of child Palestinian prisoners and to extract quick confessions to use for convictions in military courts which do not abide guarantees of fair trials.
The international organization continues to back-up prisoner rights reports by stating that children are deprived the right to receive appropriate medical treatment, are subjected to extortion when seeking treatment and also deprived family visits. Palestinian children in Israeli prisons are also deprived of the right to education while their mental health is comprised in both the short and long terms. The same is true of physical health which remains compromised due to solitary confinement, beatings and the confiscation of funds for the prison store where the children might be able to purchase supplemental food.
The Palestine Branch of Defense of Children added that the policy of arbitrary arrest of Palestinian children must be stopped while at the same time called on the international community to pressure the occupying state’s commitment to standards set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture.
The occupying power must be compelled to put an end to Administrative Detention and release the children being held, said Defense of Children. The global organization also called for an immediate end to violations of human rights principles and full investigation into torture and mistreatment of the youngest Palestinian political prisoners.