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Goldstone Report expresses alarm at the detention of hundreds of young children
[Ramallah, 24 September 2009] – On 15 September 2009, the Goldstone Mission published a 575 page report based on the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (the Report). The fact finding mission was established by the UN in April 2009, following the 23 day war in Gaza which killed over 1,400 hundred Palestinians, including 353 children. Eighteen Israelis were also killed during the conflict.
The Report not only deals with the direct impact of the war but also considers the broader effects, including the effect on Palestinian children from the West Bank detained by Israel during, and immediately after, the offensive.
Based on evidence from numerous sources, the Report expressed a number of key concerns regarding the treatment of Palestinians, including children, held in Israeli detention:
Concern about the detention of children and adults on political grounds, in poor conditions, and outside the occupied territory in violation of international humanitarian law. The Mission noted the very high number of Palestinians who have been detained since the beginning of the occupation (amounting to 40% of the adult male population) according to a practice that appears to aim at exercising control, humiliating, instilling fear, deterring political activity and serving political interests. (See paragraph 1535)
Concern by reports of coercion and torture during interrogations, trials based on coerced confessions or secret evidence, and the reportedly systematic and institutionalised ill-treatment in prisons. (See paragraph 1536)
Particular alarm at the arrest and detention of hundreds of young children, and the rise in child detention during and following the Israeli military operations in Gaza. The ill-treatment described to the Mission received by children and adults is disturbing in its seemingly deliberate cruelty. (See paragraph 1537)
The conclusions drawn by the Goldstone Mission correspond with findings made by the UN Committee Against Torture in May 2009 and with findings contained in DCI-Palestine’s recent report on Palestinian child prisoners, which found that the ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities is widespread, systematic and institutionalised.
The Goldstone Mission recommends that in the absence of good faith investigations that are independent and in conformity with international standards having been undertaken within six months, that the allegations of illegal conduct surrounding the war in Gaza be referred by the UN Security Council to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for investigation and possible prosecution.
There are currently 339 Palestinian children being held in Israeli prisons. This represents a 15.7% increase on the corresponding period in 2008. Disturbingly, the number of Palestinian children between the ages of 12 and 15 in Israeli detention has risen by 85% over the corresponding period in 2008.
Please consider lobbying your elected representatives and demand that pressure be applied on Israeli authorities to cease the practice of prosecuting Palestinian children as young as 12 in military courts, and detaining them inside Israel, in contravention of international law.