On Sunday, a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official said 291 Palestinian children are currently in Israeli prisons. In a statement, Hanan Ashrawi, a PLO Executive Committee member, said: "There are currently nearly 5,900 Palestinian prisoners, including 291 children in Israeli prisons."
The statement came after teenaged Palestinian resistance icon Ahed al-Tamimi and her mother were released by Israeli authorities after an eight-month long detention.
"Israel persistently violates the rights of Palestinian political prisoners, while the international community turns a blind eye to such illegal behavior and inhumane treatment," said Ashrawi.
Israeli treatment of Palestinian children in military detention has become a major area of concern for the international community. International human rights groups have criticized Israel's handling of Tamimi, placing under scrutiny the Israeli military court system that Palestinian youth face in the West Bank. The Israeli army frequently conducts wide-ranging arrest campaigns in the occupied West Bank on the pretext of searching for "wanted" Palestinians.
Al-Tamimi became an international icon for Palestinian resistance after she was filmed slapping an Israeli soldier during a raid on her home to arrest her brother. Israeli forces arrested the Palestinian girl in December 2017 after a viral video showed her slapping an Israeli soldier; later, an Israeli court handed down a sentence of eight months in March for her "attack" on an Israeli soldier.
Lately, Israel has been criticized by a U.N. human rights body for its killings of protesters in Gaza and treatment of the Palestinians, declaring it as "war crime" under the Statute of Rome. The high casualty toll triggered a diplomatic backlash against Israel and new charges of excessive use of force against unarmed protesters. The Israeli army has killed 25 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip since the beginning of 2018, a human rights nongovernmental organization said earlier this month.
In a press release, Defense for Children International-Palestine, which advocates for the rights of Palestinian children in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, held the Israeli army responsible for the death of 25 children, 21 of those deaths in the Gaza Strip, this year alone. It went on to assert that Israeli forces had deliberately killed minors with live ammunition. According to the nongovernmental organization, this death toll includes 21 children targeted directly, 11 of whom were shot in the head or neck. According to the U.N., during the border protests, over 1,000 children have been injured by Israeli forces in the besieged Gaza Strip during demonstrations, according to the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF). The U.N. body pointed out that some injuries had been severe and potentially life altering, including amputations.