Once again, the State of Israel has proven to the world that human rights and democracy are obsolete concepts that should be buried along with historical truth. Yesterday, 26/11/2010, members of the Israeli police were accused of “flagrant violations” of the law “over their harsh and at times violent treatment of Palestinian children suspected of stone throwing in east Jerusalem”.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a letter written by 60 Israeli professionals who work with children in fields as diverse as medicine, psychology, education, law and social work. These individuals detailed the reasons of their concern:
“We are writing […] to express our deep concerns about the physical and emotional welfare and proper development of children and young people in east Jerusalem in the light of police behavior during the investigation and arrest of minors in this area. […] Over the last few months, there has been a growing number of testimonies of minors and their families which points to flagrant violations of the rights of detained minors and of the use of violence during the investigation of children and young people who are suspected of throwing stones in Silwan [near east Jerusalem]”.
Testimonies of children, some of them under the age of 12, reveal that they “suffered threats and humiliation at the hands of investigators, which sometimes involved substantial physical abuse […] Despite their young age, they weren’t spared difficult and harmful interrogation conditions”, the letter said. The authors mention one disturbing case of an eight year-old who had been interrogated for four hours by Israeli police. Other testimonies point to arrests made in the middle of the night, where young children would be awaken, handcuffed and taken to an interrogation center without the presence of their parents.
Israeli police figures show that during this year alone, 1,200 minors from east Jerusalem have undergone investigation for throwing stones. However, no tribunals have yet to be opened following the thorough investigation of the renowned jurist Richard goldstone, who had concluded in his 1000 page report that the Israeli government may have been guilty of war crimes during “Operation Cast lead” of 2008-2009.
Public officials as well as Israeli police have flatly denied the allegations put forth in the aforementioned letter. Micky Rosenfeld, the spokesman of the Israel police, told the Agence France Press that “We operate within the bounds of the law”, offering no further explanations as to why so many people claim to have been abused and mistreated by the Israeli police. The silence of the Israeli political class shows the connivance of the political power in covering up human rights abuses.
If a political regime claims to be democratic, as Israeli public officials and intellectuals repeat day in and day out, such grave allegations should be dealt with urgently. For some, this will be presented as an anecdotal triviality in the broader context of preserving “Israeli security”. But who would [or could] justify interrogating children under the age of 12 (or even 14, which is the legal minimum in Israeli law) without the presence of a parent and with the use of force?
If a Palestinian leader put forth the suggestion that in retribution for the 1400 Palestinian deaths during Operation Cast lead justified “enhanced interrogation” of Israeli soldiers, the reaction from the Jewish State would be a firm negative. Now imagine a scenario where Hamas started abducting Israeli children and subjecting them to harsh, violent and humiliating conditions.
As always with Israel and its godfather the United States of America, double standards and open hypocrisy are the norm, business as usual, and this is all the more dangerous when it is supported and justified by the political class.
Ward, Hazel (25/11/2010), “Israeli police under fire for abusing east Jerusalem children”, http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101125/wl_mideast_afp/israelpalestiniansconflictjerusalemchildren