By Tim Nanns
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released on Monday raised allegations that Israeli security forces threatened and beat detained Palestinian children, whilst also ignoring international conventions on children’s rights.
The report features interviews with six children who described different forms of abuse at the hands of security forces, and whose statements, according to HRW, seemed “consistent with each other”. The abuses include unnecessary violence during arrest, as well as beatings and threats during the interrogation process.
HRW also claims that in all documented cases, the “Israeli authorities did not inform parents of their child’s arrest”, and failed to let the children speak to a lawyer or their parents before interrogation.
In other cases where minors were detained for 64 and 110 days, their parents were barred from contacting or visiting them.
The interviewees reported unnecessary violence during their arrest, as well as being pressured into signing confessions in Hebrew, a language they did not understand, after being threatened with physical violence.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the Ministry of Justice responded to the cases documented by the HRW, claiming that interrogations were conducted in Arabic, with documentations translated from Hebrew to Arabic for the detainees.
They also insisted that Israeli security officials “had adhered to the law in all cases”, with the IDF adding that “breaches of procedures are viewed seriously”. Citing several such cases, the IDF added that such breaches in the past led to confessions becoming inadmissible as evidence.
According to the IDF, just 138 of 440 interrogations in 2014 were documented in Arabic, making it impossible to verify whether these documents were translated for the children before they signed them.
HRW also criticised Israeli laws dealing with Palestinian minors, claiming that laws designed to protect children were being undermined by security officials, who threatened or beat detainees before the recorded interrogations to pressure them into signing a confession.