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Europe's leaders speak out on Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children

While the Israeli public and media failed to take any significant notice of a recent UN report criticizing Israel’s policy on children’s arrests and detention, some European officials and NGOs are speaking out about the abuses.

By Galit Saporta (Edited by Ami Asher)

Children sit atop belongings that were recovered from their home, which was demolished by Israeli authorities.

It seems that yet another report, this time from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), regarding abuses that occur during arrest, interrogation and detention of Palestinian children by the Israeli army, has failed to generate any public attention in Israel.

Only one article in Haaretz (“It’s only Palestinian children,” June 27, 2013) has referred to this issue. In some European countries, however, it is high on public and government agendas. In the Netherlands and the U.K., both politicians and the public are increasingly losing patience with Israeli violations of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Israel ratified in 1991.

Less than a week after the CRC report was released on June 25, the Dutch parliament held a lively debate on the detention and arrest of Palestinian children by the IDF. At the end of the debate, even Han ten Broeke of the right-wing coalition party VVD – traditionally a staunch supporter of Israel and its government – joined the critics and quoted from a 2011 B’Tselem report. He called upon the Dutch foreign minister to convey to the Israeli government the message that Palestinian children under interrogation should be addressed in their own language and that a lawyer should be present, or at least a video recording should be made during any such interrogation. He also called for a ban on the common practice of midnight arrests.

A day earlier, in response to questions by the Dutch national television news, Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, who had just returned from a friendly visit to Israel, said: “It is a shocking report, and we will continue paying attention to it. In our direct contacts with the Israelis we have asked them to improve detention conditions, and we intend to pursue the matter further by raising the issue at the EU level.”

The Dutch Coalition for Palestinian Children in Israeli Detention plays a considerable role in focusing attention and shaping the debate in the Netherlands. It is an alliance of seven organizations with diverse backgrounds – Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish and children’s rights groups – which has been advocating awareness and change in the situation of underage Palestinian detainees in the public and political spheres for two years now. The recent visit of a B’Tselem representative organized by one of its member groups yielded clear results, with their report being quoted in parliament several weeks later.

Meanwhile, Israel continues to evade and negate the issue of Palestinian children in Israeli detention and deny its violations. Even 700 Palestinian children arrested by Israeli authorities every year are not enough to awaken the Israeli public from its stupor. According to the concluding observation of the CRC report, during interrogations Palestinian children:

… are systematically subject to physical and verbal violence, humiliation, painful restraints, hooding of the head and face in a sack, threatened with death, physical violence, and sexual assault against themselves or members of their family, restricted access to toilet, food and water.

Apparently, even that statement has not alerted Israeli politicians and media to the urgent need to address these issues. Only a stone’s throw away, Israel has created an amazingly efficient law enforcement system that boasts a 99.7 percent conviction rate, mostly by guilty pleas, which has nothing to do with justice.

Galit Saporta is a board member of gate48 – platform for critical Israelis in the NetherlandsThis article was first published in Hebrew on Haokets.

Detained: Testimonies from Palestinian children imprisoned by Israel
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IDF soldiers to West Bank children: ‘We are the army, be careful if we see you’

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    1. Laurent Szyster

      So, “Europe’s leaders speak out on Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children” ?

      Wow, that’s a helluva news !

      You’ve been warned, evil zionists.

      Soon Europe’s leaders will spring into action.

      Real soon now they will not just have lively debates at some parliamentary hearing in the Netherlands.

      Soon, very soon, sooner that anybody expects, Europe’s leaders and opinions will wag their fingers.


      Sarcasms aside, I’m amazed that some lunatics in Israel still expect anything but hypocrisy from Europe.

      The fact is that in western Europe public opinion does not give a rat ass how roughly Israel deals with Palestinian minors.

      Actually, a growing number in Europe is clamoring for zero tolerance and harsher sanctions toward unruly “youth” (and we all know what “les jeunes” means in France’s new-speak …).

      As for Europe’s leaders, look how much they care for massive child abuse elsewhere in the region and how they are strongly resolved to do nothing about it.

      Reply to Comment
      • Oriol2

        Sad, but very true.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Dan

      If Europeans care about poor kids, get the Palestinian parents to stop sending them to throw rocks instead of themselves. This type of banter just encourages the parents to send their kids.

      Reply to Comment
      • Jan

        Dan, I completely understand why the children throw rocks. The IDF are invaders and occupiers. In any other land something more lethal then rocks would be sent in the direction of the invaders and occupiers.

        Maybe you need to spend some time in the colonized/occupied territories and see just why the kids are motivated to throw rocks. After a time you might just pick up a rock too and hurl it at the nearest IDF soldier.

        If the IDF doesn’t like the stones and rocks then they should get out of the West Bank. They never should have been there in the first place.

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          >Dan, I completely understand why the children throw rocks.

          You think that you do, but as a matter of fact, you do not.

          Arab kids throwo stones at Jews because it is an “age-old tradition”, and who is the ruler of the territory is of no relevance.

          Reply to Comment
    3. Laurent Szyster

      To get a measure of the hypocrisy of Europe’s media and elite, just have a look at this article from Le Monde:


      A train crashed in Bretigny.

      Consistent testimonies from witnesses and the rescue team members describe how some “youths” (which invariably means Arab or Muslim youths in France’s new-speak) pretended to help the victims but instead began to plunder the wounded and the deads. When the rescue team chased them away, the “youths” pelted rescuers with rocks.


      Despite all the available evidence, the french authorities and the medias suppressed or denied such politically incorrect report as mere gossips.

      They rightfully fear that such report will incite people against those “youths”, that it will strengthen a rising aversion of the majority toward a specific culture and its system of beliefs, that it will play into the hands of populist xenophobes.

      However, the same authorities and media are more than willing to believe any claim made by Palestinian Arabs against Israeli Jews, however ludicrous, ridicule or insignificant (like the last one in Hebron).

      Of course they will never get short of court Jews like you to give credit to that kind of shit.

      So they can pretend not to be the fucking prejudiced morons they actually are.

      If you are waiting some help to resolve the conflict from those hypocrits, you’re in for a treat.

      Reply to Comment
      • Philos

        Laurent Szyster, should be banned for spreading anti-Semitic (Arabs are Semites too) and Islomophobic hate speech. Laurent, we can check the news too. A “dilapidated” rail system with faulty signals is to blame and I can’t find anything about corpses being looted. This is the type of Medieval hate mongering that the Jews suffered. And just like the Medieval times there was a strong connection between Islamophobia and Jew hatred. Check out the literature on the Crusades you lying liar.


        Reply to Comment
        • Laurent Szyster

          Either you did not read my comment or did not understand it.

          Nowhere did I write that “youths” provoked the accident.

          My point was about the extreme caution – often bordering in denial – exhibited by Europe’s mainstream medias when it comes to avoid incitement against Muslim migrants.

          And I compared that caution with their recklessness when it comes to ludicrous “anti-zionist” propaganda.

          When Israel is accused by Palestinian propagandists, European media jump to conclusion without bothering to even investigate the matter.

          And when proven wrong, they will just slip their false report under the carpet, avoid any apologies, ready to relay the next libel.

          Reply to Comment
    4. Rube Vogel

      Just to be clear: When a father sends his 5 year old child out to throw rocks at people, international law requires allowing the child to continue? If so, then the law is an Ass. And anyone defending such a law is a bigger Ass.

      Reply to Comment
      • Philos

        So when you were five I imagine all the mischief you got up to was at the express instructions of your parents? I don’t know what’s sadder; that people forget that children are autonomous and not under the mind control of their parents, or that there are enough idiots to believe that Palestinian children are the most disciplined, obedient kids in the world and always obey their parents instructions to throw rocks.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          The mischief I got into ended with the authorities stopping me and then talking with my parents. There seem to be enough idiots that believe that this isn’t what any reasonable authority would do in response to misbehaving children.

          Reply to Comment
          • Philos

            And those authorities broke down your family door in the middle of the night, their faces masked, pointing loaded assault rifles at your mother and father, and dragged you off screaming into the night, and then slapped your face raw in the back of their army jeep? No, I didn’t think so.

            Reply to Comment
          • sh

            And blindfolded and handcuffed K9’s father for good measure. Sure.

            Reply to Comment
          • Philos

            So did these authorities kick your down your front door in the middle of the night, dragging you and your family at gun point from their beds, their faces masked, shouting at your father in a language you don’t understand, their right hands on the handles of their assault rifles? Did they drag you from your family screaming in tears and then slap the crap out of you the drive to the army base? Did they lock you up with a bunch of strange adults? No, I don’t think so, so don’t pretend like the IDF are the neighbourhood cops come to bring little Johnny home by the ear and to tell his parents that you hope he gets grounded.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Given that none of his relatives probably had never carried out attacks against relatives of aforementioned authorities, and probably had never told little Kolumn that these occupying authorities should all be driven away from this entire region, it is not surprising that the treatment is a bit different.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            So, given that you have chosen to turn to a different topic, can I assume that you agree that taking a child to his parent’s house for being naughty is a reasonable policy on the part of the authorities?

            Reply to Comment
          • sh

            On the part of the police in a country that has one law for everyone and doesn’t blindfold and cuff one of the parents who did nothing to resist them, yes.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            And if a parent would grab a gun of one of police/soldiers and would make a little massacre, you would argue that probably the police had pissed him off.

            Kavaii leftists theories are only good in imaginable conditions and are not quite applicable to the real life.

            Reply to Comment