[1 December 2010] – On 24 November 2010, 60 prominent Israeli professionals sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior officials raising their concerns about the violent treatment of Palestinian children at the hands of the authorities in occupied East Jerusalem.
According to Israeli Police, in 2010 more than 1,200 criminal cases have been opened against children from occupied East Jerusalem alleging involvement in stone-throwing incidents. The letter states that ‘children and teenagers related that they had been dragged out of their beds in the middle of the night or arrested in their neighbourhoods by undercover detectives and special security forces; taken in for questioning while handcuffed and unescorted by their parents; in certain cases, the families were not notified of the arrest in real time; minors were asked to give names and incriminate friends and relatives as a condition of their release; were threatened and humiliated by their interrogators; and some of them were even subject to physical violence while taken in for questioning and under interrogation.’ The authors of the letter urge the Prime Minister to ‘immediately take the necessary steps to ensure that all arrest, detention, and interrogation procedures employed against minors suspect of throwing stones in East Jerusalem … adhere to the letter and spirit of the law.’
The issues raised in the letter reflect concerns held by DCI-Palestine, which has documented 22 cases of children who report being mistreated by the arresting authorities since 8 October 2010. The age of the youngest child reporting mistreatment is seven years.
• Ten-year-old boy grabbed by three men in civilian clothes - Voices
• Twelve-year-old boy arrested on his way to school - Voices
These arrests are occurring against a backdrop of heightened tensions in occupied East Jerusalem due to the Municipality’s plans to demolish houses in Silwan, and the presence of around 380 settlers in the area. Under international law, East Jerusalem forms part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and ‘all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status … have no legal validity.’ (UN Security Council Resolution 465 of 1980)