Just the Facts: Minors in Military Courts
- About 800,000 Palestinian men, women and children have been detained since 1967.
- Children as young as 12 years can be prosecuted in the military courts.
- Approximately 500-1,000 children are detained each year.
- Children are most commonly prosecuted for stone throwing.
- Over half of all detained children are arrested at night and report physical and psychological abuse during arrest, transfer and interrogation.
- 95% of cases in the military courts end in conviction.
- Approximately 50% of Palestinian child detainees are held in prisons in Israel in breach of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
- Under Israeli military law army commanders have full executive, legislative and judicial authority over 3 million Palestinians living in the West Bank. Palestinians have no say in how this authority is exercised.
- Israeli military authorities in the West Bank continue to rely on the Fourth Geneva Convention as the legal basis for prosecuting Palestinian civilians, including children, in military courts. The same Convention prohibits settlement construction.
- Military courts used to prosecute civilians are permitted under international law but only on a temporary basis. Israeli military courts used to prosecute Palestinians from the West Bank have been operating since 1967.
- Israeli children, including those living in West Bank settlements built in violation of international law, have far more rights and protections under civilian law than Palestinian children living under military law.
- Since 1967, over 1,800 military orders have been issued but few have been promptly translated into Arabic, as is required under the Fourth Geneva Convention. In theory, these laws have no legal effect until translated
- In 2013, UNICEF published a report which concluded that “the ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalised throughout the process”.
- Most Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military in the West Bank live within 2 kilometres of a settlement built in violation of international law, or a road used by settlers.
- Dual Israeli legal systems operate in the West Bank. Palestinians are prosecuted in military courts, whereas Israeli settlers are prosecuted in civilian courts, with far greater rights and protections.
This week’s Just the Facts comes from:
- Military Court Watch’s Factsheet.
- This recent “Online briefing on the impact of Israeli military detention on Palestinian children” from CAABU, DCIP, and Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights.
- Defence for Children International Palestine’s playlist of the videos addressing Military Detention.
- To go deeper, we have an extensive list of Additional Resources at the bottom of this week’s entry and we’re developing a YouTube playlist on the subject.