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Israeli steps up targeting of Palestinian kids, homes

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this file photo, Israeli forces detain a Palestinian child in al-Quds (Jerusalem) following clashes in the holy city. (By Reuters)

Human Rights Watch says Israeli forces are abusing Palestinian children in various prisons and detention facilities, warning that the arrests of Palestinian minors have doubled since last October.

Citing interviews with arrested children, video footage, and reports from lawyers, the New York-based rights group said that Israeli forces resort to excessive force in detaining Palestinian minors and hold them captive in unsafe and abusive conditions.

“Palestinian children are treated in ways that would terrify and traumatize an adult,” Sari Bashi, Israel/Palestine director for Human Rights Watch, said.

“Screams, threats, and beatings are no way… to treat a child or to get accurate information from them,” she added.

Lawyers and rights groups told HRW that Israeli forces regularly interrogate Palestinian children in the absence of a parent, hence infringing upon international laws that demand special protection for detained children.

Bashi said Israeli forces “should obey the law and treat child detainees with the humanity and dignity that all children deserve.”

According to the Palestinian children’s rights group DCI-Palestine and the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, the number of Palestinian children arrested in the West Bank since last October has increased by 150 percent compared to a year ago.

The Commission of Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs announced in a report released on April 3 that at least 241 Palestinian children under the age of 18 were being held in Israeli prisons.

The Palestinian human rights said 94 Palestinian minors, sentenced on various charges, are incarcerated at the Israeli-run Ofer Prison near the occupied West Bank city of Beitunia, while the rest are being kept in other jails.

Over 500 Palestinian homes razed since January

Meanwhile, Israeli military forces have demolished at least 523 Palestinian houses and places of residence across the occupied West Bank since the start of the current year.

Children from the Arab Jahalin Bedouin community play amidst the rubble of a house in the village of Umm al-Kheir south of the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron), where Israeli authorities demolished six houses, April 6, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The Palestinian Land Research Center (LRC) reported on Sunday that Israeli forces razed 188 residential buildings, housing 854 Palestinians, together with 97 tents and 75 houses made of bricks, corrugated metal, stone and cement during the mentioned period.

Tensions have heightened in the occupied territories since August 2015, when Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina.

At least 208 Palestinians, including children and women, have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces since the beginning of last October.

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