5th April 2012 | International Solidarity Movement, Occupied Palestine Children’s Days around the world are intended to honour, protect and celebrate childhood. Palestinian Children’s Day, commemorated on the 5th of April each year, is no celebration – rather it is a day highlighting the horrific treatment of Palestinian children by the occupying Israeli authorities. In 2013, Children’s Day falls in a period in which arrests and detention of children by the Israeli military has become increasingly common. Defence for Children International- Palestine put the number of children currently detained under the Israeli occupation at 236. In the West Bank city of Al Khalil (Hebron), the rise in child arrests has been particularly evident – two weeks before Children’s Day, 30 children were attacked and detained by Israeli soldiers on their way to school, eyewitnesses stated that they were seemingly grabbed at random from in front of their school (see video below.)
Children, who are detained regularly in Al Khalil, generally have their hands bound and are confined in dark, closed spaces such as checkpoint boxes, along with soldiers who deny access to human rights observers and in some cases the families of the children. There are regular reports of beatings, threats and torture in attempts to force children to admit to crimes.
In checkpoints in Al Khalil, there are blurred pictures of children’s faces, allegedly from demonstrations, printed and stuck to the walls for soldiers to attempt to identify children as they walk past on their way to school. A recent UNICEF investigation into children in Israeli military detention describes the whole process that often occurs in arrests and sentencing of children, criticising Israel’s failings in safeguarding children’s rights under such legal policies and principles as the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We call for an end to Occupation, so that Palestinian Children’s Day can be a celebration of childhood the rights of children, rather than a day to fight against the injustices committed by the Israeli system against the youth of Palestine.