A woman holds a picture of a Palestinian prisoner held in an Israeli jail, during a rally marking Palestinian Prisoners' Day, in Bethlehem in the Israeli occupied West Bank April 17, 2019.
(photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA / REUTERS)
Israel has detained around 1,600 Palestinians, including 230 children and 40 women, since the start of 2019, according to a report released this week by the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Department of Public Diplomacy and Policy.
The report, issued to correspond with Prisoners’ Day, also showed that there are 500 Palestinians held in administrative detention without trial or charge.
Israel is the only country in the world with a juvenile military court. A 2018 report by B’Tselem described how every year, hundreds of Palestinian minors are picked up by Israeli security forces, handcuffed and/or blindfolded and transported for an often-violent interrogation. Then, they are taken to the military court for a remand hearing, where most see their lawyer for the first time. Minors’ rights are regularly and systematically violated, B’Tselem wrote.
Similarly, the new PLO report showed that in 2018, Israel detained some 3,255 Palestinian children between the ages of 12 and 17. Some 70% of them were threatened with violence, including rape, castration, home demolition, imprisonment for life and denial of food. More than 75% of child prisoners reported being blindfolded.
The IDF responded to the accusations by the PLO, saying that in recent years many minors, and at very young ages, have been involved in violent incidents, incitement and even terrorism.
“In such cases, there is no choice but to take steps, including interrogation, detention and prosecution, within the limits and in accordance with arrangements established by law,” an IDF spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post. “Cases against minors are handled in the juvenile military court, which examines the severity of the offense and the risk posed by the minor, taking into account his age and other special circumstances.”
The spokesperson said that minors are entitled to an attorney or with any other form of defense that they choose, that hearings are held shortly after arrest and are conducted “efficiently and with due respect for the rights of the defendants.”
This year the Israeli government implemented the “pay-to-slay” law. The latter allows Israel to deduct and freeze the amount of money the Palestinian Authority pays in salaries to imprisoned terrorists and families of “martyrs” from the tax money it collects for the PA. The law was passed in July 2018 and approved for implementation by Israel’s security cabinet this year.
In 2019, the cabinet is withholding approximately $138 million.
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