Saturday, August 22, 2009

DCI Israel and Palestine submit alternative report on child recruitment

[JERUSALEM, 13 August 2009] – Defence for Children International (Israeli and Palestinian sections) is releasing a joint report on Israeli authorities’ use of Palestinian children in hostilities. The report was submitted on 17 July 2009 to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which is scheduled to review Israel’s compliance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict in January 2010.

The report focuses on the ongoing use of Palestinian children as human shields by the Israeli army, and their recruitment as informers by the Israeli Security Agency, in violation of Article 2 of the Optional Protocol, ratified by Israel in 2005. The issue of recruitment of children by Palestinian armed groups does not fall in the remit of the Committee. However, a report on the Palestinian armed groups’ behaviour regarding the terms of the Optional Protocol is being prepared and will be released in the near future.

The present report covers the period January 2005–June 2009. During this period, at least 11 Palestinian children were used as human shields, or coerced to assist Israeli soldiers in military operations, in six incidents in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in contravention of the October 2005 ruling by the Israeli High Court of Justice. At least six children were used as human shields by Israeli troops during Israel’s recent Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Most of these children were subjected to abuse and ill-treatment while detained and have been psychologically scarred by the experience.

One child who was used as a human shield said: I am sometimes ashamed to talk about things in detail with people I do not know... I don’t even talk about it with my mother. I prefer to forget, and sometimes I cry when I remember. (Majed, 9 - p.21 of the report)

The report also contains five testimonies from former child detainees alleging that they were asked to become informers under duress. The Israeli Security Agency continues to seek to recruit Palestinian children as informers through coercive interrogation techniques despite the October 2005 Israeli High Court of Justice ruling that banned this practice. Children coerced into assisting the occupying power might be exposed to lethal threats within their own community.

The 82-page report makes five recommendations focusing on accountability and is supported by over 35 pages of sworn testimonies contained in an annexure to the main report.

Additional information

For further information contact:

Rifat Kassis,
Te: +972 (0)2 242 7530

Hadeel Younis,
Tel: +972 (0)2 623 5450