Sir Vincent Fean writes:
The Balfour Project commends a new report by Save the Children on the plight of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention. Please click here to read the report.
The report results from sustained, careful research. It builds on Save the Children’s 2020 report: “Defenceless: the impact of Israel’s Military Detention on Palestinian Children”. The situation has worsened for Palestinian children since 2020 – it was terrible then, and for decades before.
In 2011 a delegation of distinguished British judges and lawyers visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory to see for themselves how Palestinian children were being treated in the Israeli military system. They produced a report in 2012 detailing exactly where Israel was acting in breach of UN Conventions which Israel had signed and ratified. The British Government funded the visit and report, which it presented to the Israeli authorities – who ignored it and refused to accept a follow-up visit by the delegation. In 2013 UNICEF wrote a very similar report. Ten years on, 97% of UNICEF’s recommendations have been ignored, and the treatment of Palestinian children has actually worsened. I really didn’t think that was possible – but clearly it is.
As part of the Balfour Project 17 May conference “Human Rights in Palestine: Responsibility and Accountability” Defence of the Child International – Palestine told their story of intimidation and abuse of process. It’s the same story. It needs to be better known – and the story needs to change.
Save the Children, supported by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, has issued a new call for action at the end of this report, seeking “an immediate moratorium on Israeli military authorities arresting, detaining and prosecuting children. No child should come into contact with this abusive detention system until substantive reforms are made”.
The call for action is the right call. No state should be above the law. In this instance, Israel is breaching international Conventions it has entered into freely. Save the Children and Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights hope to secure a debate in the House of Commons when Parliament resumes in September. The Balfour Project will host a webinar on the plight of Palestinian children, to help raise awareness of this systematic crippling of young lives.
Sir Vincent Fean was UK Consul-General, Jerusalem (2010-14). He is a trustee of the Balfour Project.