25 November 2010

Israeli police blasted for abusing Jerusalem children

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli police were accused of "flagrant violations" of the law Thursday over their harsh and at times violent treatment of Palestinian children suspected of stone-throwing in east Jerusalem.

The allegations were detailed in a letter sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a group of 60 Israeli professionals, among them experts in medicine, psychology, education, social work and law -- all of whom work with children.

The letter expresses concern about the growing number of testimonies submitted by Palestinian minors who have been arrested by police in occupied and annexed east Jerusalem, notably in the flashpoint neighbourhood of Silwan.

"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 behaviour during the investigation and arrest of minors in this area," it said.

"Over the last few months, there has been a growing number of testimonies of minors and their families which point 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."

Masked Israeli policemen arrest two Palestinians during clashes near Damascus
Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City February 9, 2007. [MaanImages/Magnus Johansson]

Youngsters have testified how they were dragged out of bed in the dead of the night, cuffed and taken for investigation without being accompanied by their parents -- and sometimes without their family even being informed, it said.

During the investigation, "they suffered threats and humiliation at the hand of the investigators .. which sometimes involved substantial physical violence," it said, noting with concern that even children under the age of 12 were being detained.

The crumbling neighbourhood of Silwan, which lies just south of Jerusalem's Old City, is the focal point of regular clashes between locals and hardline Jewish settlers, with police frequently arresting youngsters on charges of stone-throwing.

The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised state and oppose any attempts to extend Israel's control over the part of the city that was captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its "eternal and indivisible" capital, a status not recognised by the international community.

(Ma'an News, 25/11/2010)

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