The images grow no less shocking with time — a gaping wound on a tiny skull, the hair matted with blood; a gunshot that pierced the skin of a small torso and went straight toward the kidney; and finally, the broken neck and severed penis of a 13-year-old boy, his mangled body contorted on a plastic sheet.
This isn’t, however, a story from Israel but the shocking example of what is happening to Syrian children being tortured and murdered by the Assad regime.
Meanwhile, in Israel, The Guardian runs a special report on the alleged mistreatment of Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military. With the report is an 11 minute video which includes footage of an interrogation. A Palestinian child cries, not as a result of torture but because he is going to miss some school exams.
By opening this critique with the emotive and disturbing description of a dead child, we could be accused of being deliberately manipulative. Just like The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood who also set the scene in a similar fashion:
The room is barely wider than the thin, dirty mattress that covers the floor. Behind a low concrete wall is a squat toilet, the stench from which has no escape in the windowless room. The rough concrete walls deter idle leaning; the constant overhead light inhibits sleep. The delivery of food through a low slit in the door is the only way of marking time, dividing day from night.
This is Cell 36, deep within Al Jalame prison in northern Israel. It is one of a handful of cells where Palestinian children are locked in solitary confinement for days or even weeks. One 16-year-old claimed that he had been kept in Cell 36 for 65 days.
It is an ugly scene for an equally ugly story that paints Israel as a serial abuser of Palestinian children. The real child abuse in reality, however, is that caused by Palestinian society and media that glorifies terrorists, suicide bombers and “martyrs”, encouraging Palestinian youth to follow the same path.
A vulnerable child is easy pickings for recruitment by terrorist organizations. In recent years the most predominant activities characterizing involvement of minors were involvement in suicide bomb attacks, Molotov cocktail throwing, stone throwing and stabbing. Minors have also been involved in grenade throwing, use of explosives, shooting, car bombs, transfer of weapons, kidnapping, rocket launching, as well as assault and murder.
See here for more on Children Dying to Kill.
And while it suits Palestinian propaganda to promote the image of children armed with stones facing Israeli armor, the reality is that stones can kill. As recently as September 2011, Asher Palmer and his infant son Yonatan were killed after the vehicle he was driving overturned as a result of Palestinian rock throwing.
The Israeli response: Unpublished by The Guardian
There are often complaints that Israel does not react in a timely manner to address allegations such as those made by The Guardian. While Israeli Government spokesman Mark Regev does appear in The Guardian’s video along with a token paragraph in the main article, most of the Israeli Security Agency’s (ISA) response went unpublished as Harriet Sherwood picked out only a few quotes.
Here, for the record, we are including the response from the ISA that was sent to The Guardian before its article was published. In it, the ISA states:
- The claims that Palestinian minors were subject to interrogation techniques that include beatings, prolonged periods in handcuffs, threats, kicks, verbal abuse, humiliation, isolation and prevention of sleep are utterly baseless.
- Those detained for ISA questioning receive the full rights for which they are eligible, in accordance with international treaties of which the State of Israel is a signatory and according to Israeli law, including the right to legal counsel and visits by the Red Cross.
THE OFFICIAL RESPONSE FROM THE ISRAEL SECURITY AGENCY (ISA) TO THE GUARDIAN
1. The claims that Palestinian minors were subject to interrogation techniques that include beatings, prolonged periods in handcuffs, threats, kicks, verbal abuse, humiliation, isolation and prevention of sleep are utterly baseless.
2. The Israel Security Agency acts in accordance with the ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court of Justice, at the center of which stands the court ruling regarding ISA interrogations from 1999. In this context, it must be mentioned that in 2009, the Supreme Court of Justice rejected a petition that claimed that the 1999 High Court of Justice ruling regarding ISA interrogations was allegedly being violated.
3. The Israel Security Agency and its employees work solely within the law and are subject to oversight and internal and external examination, including by the State Comptroller, the State Prosecutor, the Attorney General’s Office, the Israeli Knesset and Israel’s courts at all levels, including the Supreme Court.
4. Those detained for ISA questioning receive the full rights for which they are eligible, in accordance with international treaties of which the State of Israel is a signatory and according to Israeli law, including the right to legal counsel and visits by the Red Cross.
5. The ISA categorically denies all claims with regard to the interrogation of minors. In fact, the complete opposite is true – the ISA guidelines grant minors special protections needed because of their age.
6. No one questioned, including minors being questioned, is kept alone in a cell as a punitive measure or in order to obtain a confession, etc.
7. Regarding the other claims regarding torture, humiliation, etc, it is hereby emphasized that the investigators act in accordance with the law and unequivocal guidelines which forbid such actions.
8. The claims regarding the prevention of legal counsel are also completely groundless – indeed, there are specific cases in which a meeting between a prisoner and his lawyer are not allowed, however there is legal oversight on ISA interrogations, including the issue of postponing meetings with lawyers, including the possibility of filing a petition with the Supreme Court in Israel. It should be mentioned that a fundamental petition that was filed in this regard with the High Court of Justice in 2009 was withdrawn by the petitioners after a discussion in the Supreme Court.
Source material can be found at this site.