Toronto, November 27, 2023 – Save the Children has welcomed the release of some Israeli children held hostage in Gaza and some Palestinian children held in Israeli military detention but reiterated a call for all remaining hostages to be released unconditionally, for more to be done to protect children in Israeli-run prisons, and for a ceasefire to protect children in Gaza.
The child rights organisation said the right to safety, protection and assistance must be fulfilled for all children, including Israeli child hostages and the hundreds of Palestinian children outside of Gaza who remain in Israeli military detention at risk of abuse and ill-treatment. This right to protection must also be extended to children in Gaza where an estimated 5,500 have been killed in the past seven weeks, according to officials in Gaza.
Prior to the ongoing escalation, about 500-700 Palestinian children were subjected to the Israeli military detention system every year. Between 7 October and 3 November, about 145 Palestinian children were detained by Israeli military authorities. A large number are being held without charge, trial or due process guarantees, which does not meet international juvenile justice standards.
Palestinian children are the only children in the world who are systematically prosecuted in military courts, with an estimated 10,000 Palestinian children held in the Israeli military detention system over the past 20 years. Denying children access to legal representation and to see their family, are both longstanding measures imposed by Israeli authorities.
A Save the Children report earlier this year found that the majority of Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military who we consulted experienced physical and emotional abuse, including being beaten (86%), threatened with harm (70%), held in solitary confinement (60%) or hit with sticks or guns (60%). Some children reported sexual violence and abuse, and 69% reported being strip searched during interrogation.
Save the Children’s Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territory Jason Lee said:
“We welcome the news of the release of some of the Israeli children held hostage in Gaza, and those Palestinian children held in Israeli military detention so far. They have experienced horrors no child should ever endure and must be provided with support to help them start the long-road to recovery.
“However, this exchange is just the first step needed in addressing the decades-old protection crisis of children, which can no longer be ignored.
“A lasting ceasefire must be agreed immediately, all hostages in Gaza must be released, and the appalling emotional and physical abuse of Palestinian children in detention must end.”
Save the Children has been calling for an immediate moratorium on Israeli military authorities arresting, detaining and prosecuting children until comprehensive reforms to the system are made.
Save the Children have been providing essential services and support to Palestinian children impacted by the ongoing conflict since 1953. Save the Children’s team in the occupied Palestinian territory has been working around the clock, prepositioning vital supplies to support people in need, and working to find ways to get assistance into Gaza.
For additional information please contact Tiffany Baggetta, Head of Media:
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