FM spokesman: Report based on “political bias and bashing.”
Israel slammed a United Nations report from Geneva that claimed the IDF tortures Palestinian children, arbitrarily arrests them and has at times used them as human shields.
“This report was not written in good faith,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor on Thursday.
“It is not a report that aims to promote any real improvement, but only to grab headlines,” Palmor said.
The 21-page report by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) made public on Thursday, looked at children’s rights on both sides of the pre-1967 lines.
But it included a general condemnation of Israeli actions, including land confiscation, settlement building and the security barrier.
The section of the report which dealt with the treatment of Palestinian minors in Israeli jails, was harsher than a report on the same subject, issued in March by UNICEF.
Unlike the UNICEF report, the CRC report did not take into account Israeli actions to improve the situation.
“If someone simply wants to magnify their political bias and political bashing of Israel not based on a new report, on work on the ground, but simply recycling old stuff, there is no importance in that,” Palmor said.
Kirsten Sandberg, a Norwegian who chairs the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, said the report was based on facts, not on the political opinions of its members.
“We look at what violations of children’s rights are going on within Israeli jurisdiction,” she told Reuters.
She said Israel did not acknowledge that it had jurisdiction in the territories, but the committee believed it does, meaning it has a responsibility to comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The report Israel submitted to the CRC did not deal with the Palestinians or issues related to the West Bank and Gaza.
The CRC periodically reviews Israel, along with the other 192 UN member states, so that it can monitor its compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
It last reviewed Israel in 2002. This latest report was conducted by an 18-member CRC made up of representatives from Ghana, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Ecuador, Monaco, Hungry, Russia, Tunisia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Brazil, Italy, Norway, Sri Lanka and Austria.
In the report the CRC took issues with Israeli arrest and treatment of Palestinian minors.
It explained that the IDF had arrested, interrogated and detained an estimated 7,000 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17 years, but sometimes as young as nine, over the reporting period.
This means that an average of two children per day were arrested, the CRC said. It added that the number of Palestinian minors who were arrested increased by 73 percent since September 2011.
Many of the Palestinian minors were arrested on an arbitrary basis, the CRC said.
There are currently 236 Palestinian minors detained for alleged security reasons, the CRC said. It added that the minors could be held for four days before being brought to a judge, and they were rarely informed of their rights to have their parents or an attorney present.
Palestinian minors are often arrested in the middle of the night, blindfolded and their hands are tied behind their backs, the CRC said.
“Palestinian children arrested by the state party military and police are systematically subjected to degrading treatment and often to acts of torture, are interrogated in Hebrew a language they do not understand and sign confessions in Hebrew in order to be released,” the CRC said.
“Children are brought in leg chains and shackles, wearing prison uniforms before military courts where confessions obtained from them under duress re used for main evidence,” the CRC said.
The CRC called on Israel to remove all Palestinian minors from solitary confinement. It also called for an independent investigation into alleged cases of torture and ill treatment of Palestinian minors.
In addition, it said, it was deeply concerned about reports that Israel had used Palestinian children as human shields and informants. The CRC said that 14 such cases had been reported from January 2010 to March 2013.
“Almost all those using children as human shield and informants have remained unpunished and the soldiers convicted of having forced at gunpoint a nine-year-old child to search bags suspected of containing explosives only received a suspended sentence of thee months and were demoted,” the CRC said.
On a separate note, it said that it was worried about the increased number of Palestinian children in the West Bank harmed from settler attacks.
With respect to Gaza, the CRC charged that Israel disregarded the principles of proportionality and distinction in its military attacks against the strip. It added that it was concerned by the number of Palestinian children killed in Israel’s Gaza military actions in the last decade.
UN Watch’s Executive Director Hillel Neuer said the committee was composed of countries with problematic human rights records.
“About half the members of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child come from non-democracies, many of whom take unfriendly or hostile positions against Israel at the UN, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Russia,” Neuer said.
“What the UN forgot to mention today is that the vice-chair of the committee accusing Israel of violating children’s rights works for the Saudi government and has a despicable record of apologetics for her country’s misogyny,” he added.