Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
The treatment of Palestinian children by the Israeli judicial system
Intervention by Yiorgos Loucaides, AKEL-Left-New Forces Parliamentary Representative
I would like to warmly congratulate the Rapporteur of the current Report for the work she has done despite the lack of cooperation on the part of the Israeli delegation, which is not in line with the spirit of a parliamentary assembly. I would also like to endorse the proposals and recommendations put forward in the Draft Resolution.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Since we are discussing this issue, I would like to ask all of you who have children, grandchildren or nephews to imagine them in the position of Palestinian children who are in the hands of the Israeli authorities. To think about armed soldiers raiding your house in the middle of the night and in front of your eyes seeing your children in handcuffs. Think about Israeli soldiers binding their eyes and dragging them off swearing at andhitting them, throwing them in isolation cells without anyone telling you or the children themselves what they are accused of. Interrogating them without you or a lawyer beside them, handing them a paper written in a language that they do not understand and forcing them to sign their “admission of guilt”". Setting them up before military courts and sentencing them by summary proceedings. A state that is committing all of these actions is far from being entitled to call itself "the only democracy in the Middle East".
Whatever one’s view of the Middle East Problem and its solution is, we must all agree on one thing. No child can be deprived of his/her basic human rights. There is no excuse or mitigation for any maltreatment, abuse and the humiliation of children - whatever it is that they have committed or what they are accused of. Let alone - we add - when the charge against these children is nothing other than their resistance to the daily injustice and atrocities they are suffering, their participation in the just struggle of their people for freedom.
The State of Israel has no excuse to refuse to comply with international conventions which it has itself signed, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Geneva Convention. Israel's claim that it is not obliged to apply it to Palestinians living under its occupation is morally outrageous, but also legally unfounded, as the International Court of Justice has pointed out. Israel must put an end to this widespread, systematic and deeply embodiedill-treatment of Palestinian children, which governs its entire justice system and fundamentally change its laws, practices and attitudes.
The State of Israel instead of threatening with life imprisonment Palestinian children who "insult" Israeli soldiers - as the Minister of Education has stated - should have reflected on why these children feel rage and indignation. Instead of increasing the sentences to 10 and 20 years in prison for Palestinian children throwing stones, he shouldwonder why they throw stones. And the answer is none other than the ongoing Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.