The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child has accused Israelis of torturing Palestinian children. They claim that Palestinian kids are routinely denied registration of their birth and access to quality health care and even used as human shields. What do you know about this, Eyal?
“Well, I think that if you read the report carefully, the reference is to the problem of the ongoing conflict. I mean, I don’t think that anyone blames Israel for any complete plan or policy. The issue which is being discussed is namely the result of the ongoing conflict. Of course, they mention also that Israel’s kids are being victims of this violence. But since Israel is a stronger side in this conflict, more Palestinian kids are being victims. I think when we look at this report, what we should have in mind is that there’s an ongoing conflict and fear of civilians, including children. They do suffer. It happened in Chechnya also, when the Russian Army had to engage in the battle against terrorism. Whenever there’s a struggle which civilians are getting involved into, children are always victims. Unfortunately, I think this is also the case here, with Palestinian children.”
When we talk about Palestinian children and Israeli children for that matter, the report does acknowledge that more of these casualties are Palestinian children. And it also says that most Palestinian children who have been arrested are accused of having thrown stones at Israeli forces. That’s an offence which can carry up to 20 years in prison as the penalty. Israeli soldiers have testified that the arbitrary nature of their arrests can be completely subjective. What are we looking at here? Is this a crisis amongst children of Palestinian descent who are captured by Israeli forces? Are they just languishing without any registration of their birth, without having access to proper health care?
“Well, you always have a problem with the U.N. reports. It’s something also when President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov were asked about reports regarding Syria. The number of children being killed in Syria is not 10,000 or 20,000 or 100,000. But here you don’t deal with technical or professional reports. Reports are written by ambassadors or representatives of countries. But you have nothing to do, unless the conflict is brought to an end. As long as there is a conflict between Israeli and Palestinian, the civilians are engaged.”
It is estimated that 7,000 Palestinian children between the ages of 12 and 17 and some even as young as 9 have been arrested and brought to jails and court rooms. And they are tried in front of military courts! Some of them are held in solitary confinements for months! Do soldiers really need training not to shackle children? Or are we dealing with truly apathy for the youth, because they are just of Palestinian descent?
“Once again, when there’s a regular army, the civilians are engaged.”