Israelis accused of abusing Palestinian minors
11 April 2016, 20:38
Jerusalem - Human Rights Watch on Monday accused Israeli security forces of using unnecessary force in the arrest and interrogation of Palestinian minors in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.
HRW also said that arrests of youths had spiralled since an October 2015 outbreak of violence that has killed more than 200 people.
It cited figures released by Israeli rights group B'Tselem showing that in January 406 Palestinians under 18 years of age were held "as security detainees and prisoners" compared with 183 in January 2015.
"Interviews with children who have been detained, video footage and reports from lawyers reveal that Israeli security forces are using unnecessary force in arresting and detaining children, in some cases beating them, and holding them in unsafe and abusive conditions," the rights group said in a statement.
"Screams, threats, and beatings are no way for the police to treat a child or to get accurate information from them," it quoted its Israel and Palestine director Sari Bashi as saying.
Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said the report was "inaccurate and misleading".
"The youths were arrested for being directly involved in terrorist and criminal activity," he told AFP.
HRW cited testimony from three young men, one - identified as 16-year-old Ahmed A - from the West Bank city of Hebron and two from Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
"Soldiers arrested Ahmed on November 27 at about 19:00 in the garden of a friend... near his home in Hebron," the HRW report said.
"He said that the soldiers blindfolded and handcuffed him and took him to a police station in the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba, where he was made to sit outside on the ground until about 00:30.
"He asked to have his father come there, but police officers told him his parents would not be allowed into the interrogation.
"He was permitted to speak to his lawyer by phone before the interrogation," it added.
He said interrogators accused him of having a knife, which he denied, and then took him to a military compound "where six or seven soldiers forced him to lie on the ground and hit and kicked him.
He told Human Rights Watch he was "hit on my back and legs, with kicks and blows to my head"'.
"He was transferred to a detention facility the next day and released six days later without charge, after a DNA test failed to link him to a knife that had been found," the report said.
Violence since October has left 200 Palestinians and 28 Israelis dead.
Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out attacks and many of the assailants have been young people, including teenagers, according to Israeli authorities.
Other youths have been shot dead during protests and clashes with security forces.