Israeli violence against Palestinian children in military detention has once again become a major area of concern on the anniversary of World Children's Day as more than 400 boys and girls were arrested by Israeli forces in the first 10 months of this year, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) said.
"The Israeli occupation authorities have arrested 400 Palestinian children under the age of 18 since the beginning of this year ... most of them from east Jerusalem," the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said Thursday, as quoted by Anadolu Agency (AA).
"The Israeli authorities continue to hold 170 Palestinian children in their prisons," the statement read.
"Israel is committing various violations against Palestinian children during their detention, including preventing them from completing their studies, depriving some of them of family visits in prison and isolating them in individual cells," the statement added.
Since 2015, Israel has been passing new laws that legalize the issuance of long prison sentences for children, in some cases up to life imprisonment. According to PPS, Israel has arrested about 7,000 children since 2015.
Palestinian figures show that around 4,400 Palestinians, including 39 women, 155 children and 700 sick patients, are currently held in Israeli detention facilities.
In its annual report in 2019, the PPS said that the children arrested by Israel experienced numerous rights violations. They are often taken away from their houses, usually late at night under harsh conditions, the report said. It noted that arrested children are deprived of their right to education, a clear violation of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, and some of the children are denied family visits and proper medical treatment.
The coronavirus outbreak this year has brought heightened attention to the plight of the Palestinian children in Israeli prisons. Israel's perpetual violations of Palestinians' basic rights in its prisons, including torture, repression, assault and the denial of proper medical treatment, have long been under the spotlight. In March, Israel's detention authority decided to reduce rations of bread, water and meat for Palestinian prisoners, exposing once again the ongoing systematic violations of human rights in Israeli jails.
The United Nations human rights body criticized Israel for its killings of protesters in Gaza and treatment of the Palestinians, declaring it a "war crime" under the Statute of Rome. The high casualty toll at the Gaza border 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 in 2018.
Defense for Children International - Palestine, which advocates for the rights of Palestinian children in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, asserted that Israeli forces had deliberately killed minors with live ammunition during border protests. According to the NGO, this death toll includes 21 children targeted directly, 11 of whom were shot in the head or neck. According to the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), over 1,000 children were injured by Israeli forces in the besieged Gaza Strip during demonstrations.