Ramallah, January 30, 2024—Israeli military prosecutors maintain active files against Palestinian children released from Israeli custody during a weeklong truce last November.
Many Palestinian child prisoners continue to be subject to prosecution in the Israeli military court system, despite being released by Israeli authorities in late November as part of the weeklong truce between Israel and Palestinian armed groups, according to information collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. On January 16, Israeli military prosecutors postponed the military court sessions for a group of Palestinian children released in the November prisoner and hostage swaps until March 26, 2024. All the Palestinian child prisoners were held in pretrial custodial detention at the time they were released, and are still subject to Israeli military court proceedings despite their release from Israeli custody.
“While many Palestinian children were released from Israeli custody, they were not freed and remain at heightened risk of rearrest by Israeli forces,” said Khaled Quzmar, General Director at DCIP. “Maintaining active prosecution files against Palestinian child prisoners released in the swaps suggests that their release will be short lived. In a system where arbitrary detention is the default, the international community must demand that Israeli authorities end the prosecution of Palestinian children in the Israeli military courts.”
Israeli authorities and Palestinian armed groups negotiated a truce that came into force on November 24, 2023, resulting in the release of around 180 Palestinian prisoners by Israeli authorities and Hamas freeing around 110 hostages, including at least 80 Israelis. The Palestinian prisoners released by Israel were mostly women, children, and 18-year-old Palestinian men. The truce expired on December 1, 2023, and Israeli forces resumed combat operations in the Gaza Strip.
Each year the Israeli military detains and prosecutes between 500 to 700 Palestinian children in Israeli military courts that lack basic safeguards for a fair trial.
From the moment of arrest, Palestinian children encounter ill-treatment and torture at the hands of Israeli forces.
Despite the fact that international norms reaffirm that civilians, including children, must never be brought before military courts, Israel persists in being the only country in the world to automatically and systematically prosecute children in military courts.
DCIP collected affidavits from 766 West Bank Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces between 2016 and 2022 that show three-quarters of them endured some form of physical violence following arrest and 97 percent had no parent present during interrogation, and two thirds were not properly informed of their rights. All were subject to Israeli military law that denies basic and fundamental fair trial protections and guarantees and prosecuted in Israel’s military court system which is not independent or impartial.