Palestinian UN envoy writes open letter condemning Israeli child abuse

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SHAFAQNA – Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour has sent an open letter to the UN Security Council demanding that Israel be brought to justice over violations and abuse against Palestinian children.

“Every single day and in countless ways, Palestinian children are victims of Israeli human rights violations, with no child considered too young to be spared the oppression being meted out by the Israeli occupying forces and extremist settlers,” Dr. Mansour wrote in the letter on Friday, which was made public late Saturday.

He added: “These crimes committed against our children and intolerable and unacceptable,” and noted that they were in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law.

Mansour called on “the international community to uphold its responsibilities and provide the necessary assistance and protection to Palestinian children and hold accountable the violators of international law.”

He added: “We will spare no effort to hold the perpetrators accountable and ensure justice for the victims.”

The letter came days after a seven-year-old Palestinian boy, Ahmad Zaatari, was interrogated for nearly eight hours by Israeli forces, in what Mansour described as “a horrifying and traumatic ordeal for a child of any age.”

The seven-year-old was detained along with his cousin Muhammed Zaatari, 12, on April 29, from the neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz in East Jerusalem.

Neither of the children’s families were informed where the boys had been taken until more than three hours after the arrest, Mansour wrote, adding that more than four hours later, “Ahmad was released, terrified and hungry.”

Two 15-year-old children from the same family had been detained the day before.

Mansour pointed to a number of other cases in recent weeks, including 18-year-old Muhammad Murad Yahiya who was shot dead by Israeli forces in Jenin last week, 14-year-old Fadi Abu Mandil who remains in critical condition after he was hit with a stray Israeli bullet while studying in his room in the Gaza Strip, and 200 Palestinians students who suffered tear gas inhalation after Israeli forces raided their school in Nablus last week.

Palestine became a member of the International Criminal Court at the beginning of last month, and the Palestinian leadership has repeatedly stated its intention to pursue Israeli over alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity at the court.

The ICC is currently investigating Israel in a preliminary probe, which is not itself a full investigation but could lead to one.

At the end of March, there were 182 Palestinian children in Israeli prisons including 26 who were 15 years-old or younger, according to rights group Military Court Watch.

Another group, Defense for Children in Palestine, found that Palestinian children often arrive at Israeli interrogation centers blindfolded and bound and over 75 percent detained in 2014 endured some form of physical violence between the period of their arrest and interrogation.

Israel detained 1,266 Palestinian children below the age of 15 in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 2014, according to a PLO report, and over 10,000 Palestinian children have been detained by Israeli forces since 2000.

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