NEW YORK (20 October 2011) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, urged the Government of Israel to adopt guidelines for the protection of Palestinian children living under occupation who are arrested or detained, in line with international humanitarian and human rights standards.
“Prolonged occupation deforms the development of children through pervasive deprivations affecting health, education, and overall security,” warned the independent expert in a report* to the UN General Assembly.
Mr. Falk noted that insecurity of Palestinian children is aggravated in the West Bank by settler violence and night time raids and detentions by Israeli occupation forces, house demolitions, threatened expulsions, and other practices. In Gaza, it is made worst by the blockade and violent incursions, and the still unrepaired destruction of refugee camps, residential communities, and public buildings by Israeli forces during ‘Operation Cast Lead.’
“Since 2007, the number of Palestinian children arrested and prosecuted has risen each year, and there is abundant evidence of child abuse associated with interrogations and arrests of children,” the rights expert said. “Arrest procedures documented include arrests in the middle of the night, removal of child from parents for questioning, abusive treatment in detention, and conviction procedures that appear to preclude findings of not guilty.”
The report notes an instance in which a three-year old girl was taken outside her home at 3 am and threatened at gun point: “She was told she would be shot and her family home destroyed unless she revealed the whereabouts of her brother,” Mr. Falk said, “and now, her mother explained, she can’t sleep through the night and bedwets.”
The expert also noted the frequent settler harassment of Palestinian children on their way to school, which is not stopped by Israeli forces, and has reportedly discouraged many children and their families from attending school. “The failure to prevent and punish settler violence remains a serious and on-going violation of Israel’s fundamental legal obligation to protect the civilian population.”
Mr. Falk criticized the Report of the Panel of Inquiry appointed by the Secretary General to investigate the flotilla incident on 31 May 2010, in particular the treatment of the blockade of Gaza as an issue of security, which ignores the adverse humanitarian impacts on food, water, health, and wellbeing in Gaza.
The Palestinian Statehood Bid
“Statehood would expand the options available to Palestinians to fulfill their rights under international law,” the Special Rapporteur said. “The Palestinian Authority’s request that Palestine be admitted as a member state of the UN is directly relevant to their struggle to realize the right of self-determination.”
Bedouin Forced Displacement
“The Bedouin community has been victimized by more than 62 years of occupation, in which has endured severe marginalization,” Mr. Falk said noting that serious concerns have been raised recently about an Israeli plan to forcibly displace Bedouin Communities in Area C of the West Bank.
There has been an increase of more than a 50 per cent in settler violence in 2011, with almost daily accounts of settler vandalism against Palestinian agricultural land and villages. “Part of this disturbing set of developments is a pattern of passive support for settler activities exhibited by Israeli security forces and border police, warned the Special Rapporteur.
In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council designated Richard Falk (United States of America) as the fifth Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the UN Commission on Human Rights.
(*) Check the full report: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N11/495/52/PDF/N1149552.pdf?OpenElement or http://www.un.org/en/ga/third/66/documentslist.shtml
Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/ps/mandate/index.htm
OHCHR Country Page – Occupied Palestinian Territories: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/PSIndex.aspx
OHCHR Country Page – Israel: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/ILIndex.aspx
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