Israel prosecutes between 500 and 700 Palestinian children in military courts each year.
Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, like adults, face arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment under an Israeli military detention system that denies them basic rights.
Since 1967, Israel has operated two separate legal systems in the same territory. In the occupied West Bank, Israeli settlers are subject to the civilian and criminal legal system whereas Palestinians live under military law.
Israel applies civilian criminal law to Palestinian children in East Jerusalem. No Israeli child comes into contact with the military courts.
Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that automatically and systematically prosecutes children in military courts that lack fundamental fair trial rights and protections. Israel prosecutes between 500 and 700 Palestinian children in military courts each year.
Since 2000, Israeli military authorities have detained, interrogated, prosecuted, and imprisoned approximately 13,000 Palestinian children, according to estimates by DCIP.
Israeli military courts have jurisdiction over any person older than 12 years.
Ill-treatment in the Israeli military detention system remains “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized throughout the process,” according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report Children in Israeli Military Detention Observations and Recommendations.
An average of 257 Palestinian children aged 12-17 years old were detained by Israeli authorities at any one time between 2014 and 2019, based on data released by the Israel Prison Service (IPS). During this period, an average of 48 young Palestinian children (12-15) were detained.
Children typically arrive to interrogation bound, blindfolded, frightened, and sleep deprived.
Children often give confessions after verbal abuse, threats, physical and psychological violence that in some cases amounts to torture.
Israeli military law provides no right to legal counsel during interrogation, and Israeli military court judges seldom exclude confessions obtained by coercion or torture.
A child is considered any person under 18 years, according to international norms.
Between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2019, DCIP collected sworn affidavits from 752 child detainees, describing their arrest, interrogation, and detention experiences. Of these,
Nearly 3 out of 4 Palestinian child detainees experience physical violence at the hands of Israeli forces.
over half were arrested at night
87% were not informed of the reason for their arrest
95% had their hands and feet bound
84% were blindfolded
72% were subjected to physical violence
61% were subjected to verbal abuse, humiliation, or intimidation during or after their arrest
48% were transferred from the place of their arrest on the floor of a military vehicle
75% were strip searched
46% were denied food and water
32% were denied access to a toilet
70% were not properly informed of their rights
96% were interrogated without a family member present
52% were shown or made to sign a paper in Hebrew, a language most Palestinian children do not understand
35% were threatened or coerced
21% were subjected to stress positions
18% were detained in solitary confinement for interrogation purposes for a period of two or more days
In 1991, Israel ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which stipulates that children should only be deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort, must not be unlawfully or arbitrarily detained, and must not be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Despite various degrees of engagement by U.N. human rights bodies including the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Committee Against Torture, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, as well as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children in Armed Conflict, and numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations, Israeli authorities have persistently failed to implement practical changes to end its unlawful practices towards Palestinian child detainees. Reforms undertaken thus far have been largely cosmetic rather than substantive.
What We Do
Since 1991, our lawyers have provided legal representation to Palestinian children prosecuted in Israeli military courts. We defend and protect Palestinian child detainees and work to end the military arrest and prosecution of Palestinian children by Israeli forces.
- Provide free legal representation to Palestinian children charged in Israeli military courts
- Document ill-treatment and torture by Israeli forces
- Pursue accountability by exposing violations and demanding action by policymakers
What You Can Do
In 2015, we created the No Way to Treat a Child campaign as a joint project with the American Friends Service Committee. The campaign seeks to end Israel’s prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by organizing and supporting an extensive network of people demanding immediate protections and an end to the Israeli military detention and prosecution of Palestinian children in Israeli military courts