JERUSALEM: The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in its report has criticized the Tel Aviv regime for torturing Palestinian children, saying thousands of Palestinian children have been systematically injured, tortured and used as human shields by Israel.
The Israel’s foreign minister reacted angrily to the UN Committee’s report, and described it as “recycled old stuff.”
“Hundreds of Palestinian children have been killed and thousands injured over the reporting period as a result of the state party military operations, especially in Gaza where the state party proceeded to [conduct] air and naval strikes on densely populated areas with a significant presence of children, thus disregarding the principles of proportionality and distinction,” the report said.
In its report, the UN Committee said that during the 10-year period examined by UN human rights experts, up to 7,000 children aged 9 to 17 were arrested, interrogated and kept captive.
At least 14 cases of abuse were reported to have taken place in the past three years, it said.
It was revealed in the report that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) used Palestinian children to enter potentially dangerous buildings, forcing them to stand as human shields to discourage stone-throwing at military vehicles and troops.
“Almost all those using children as human shields and informants have remained unpunished and the soldiers convicted for having forced at gunpoint a 9-year-old child to search bags suspected of containing explosives only received a suspended sentence of three months and were demoted,” the watchdog’s panel of 18 independent experts said.
The report said that throwing stones at soldiers of IDF is the most common felony for which underage Palestinians are taken to prison – convicted Palestinian minors face penalties of up to 20 years in jail.
“Palestinian children arrested by [Israeli] military and police are systematically subject to degrading treatment, and often to acts of torture, are interrogated in Hebrew, a language they did not understand, and sign confessions in Hebrew in order to be released,” the report said.
Children are fitted with leg chains and shackles to appear before military courts, and are often held in solitary confinement.
The committee blames Israel’s “long-standing occupation” of Palestinian territory for the “severe and continuous violations of the rights of Palestinian children and their families.”
Many Palestinian children are denied birth certificates, health care and education, as well as basic needs such as clean water.