Israel Responds to Guardian Child Abuse Charge

Of the detainees, you report dismissively that “most are accused of throwing stones at soldiers or settlers”, showing a bewildering disregard for this crime. Judah Shoham never reached the age of many of these minors, as he was killed by Palestinians throwing stones, aged just five months. Similarly, Jonathan Palmer never reached his second birthday; he was killed with his father when stones were hurled at their car last October.

Gerard Horton, of Defence for Children International, tells your reporter: “We’re not saying offences aren’t committed – we’re saying children have legal rights.” Israel is in complete agreement. In the face of ever younger minors committing ever greater numbers of crimes, its efforts to maintain and even increase legal protections are impressive. When a minor involved in terrorist activity is arrested, the law is clear: no torture or humiliation is permitted, nor is solitary confinement in order to induce a confession – which challenges the veracity of the accounts in your article.

Furthermore, a special juvenile court has been established to guarantee professional care for minors in detention. The above and other measures have succeeded in making legal proceedings easier for minors, and have almost halved their duration.

In the few days since the article was published, two minors (aged 16 and 17) shot at passing Israeli cars in the street. This was not the first crime these two had been involved in, having previously used firebombs as a weapon against Israelis.

It would be our wish that no minor would ever find themselves in Israeli custody. Unfortunately, we have to deal with the reality, not our dreams.

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