Friday, April 20, 2007

UN envoy: Israel's imprisonment of Palestinian minors breeds violence

Although this is from AP it is noteworthy that it is picked up in Israel rather than the mainstream press in the US. Israel seems to lack an effective Israel Lobby to block such articles in Israel! This is from Ha'aretz.
UN envoy: Israel's imprisonment of PA children feeds violence

By The Associated Press

A United Nations envoy said Thursday that Israel's detention of Palestinian children and failure give them proper trials are a problem that feeds the violence in the region.

The UN's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflicts, Radhika Coomaraswamy, said she visited the Hasharon prison in central Israel, where she said more than 150 minors are held for security and criminal offenses.

She said she urged Israeli officials to consider rehabilitation instead of detention for children detained on minor charges. Some 398 youths 12 years or older are held in Israeli jails, she said. This week the Israeli Prisons Authority said 371 Palestinian children under 18 are held in prisons.






"The process they are subject to is a military process ... and not a judicial process. That is something that we feel is a problem," she said. "I think children are getting very hard and bitter through this experience."

Coomaraswamy met with four children in the prison, including one held without trial. A 12-year-old and a 16-year-old were jailed for throwing firebombs, she said. "My sense is this kind of detention practice is feeding the cycle of violence."

Coomaraswamy said she met with Palestinian children in refugee camps and Israeli children in Sderot, an Israeli town next to Gaza that is a frequent target of rockets fired by Palestinian militants. She said she found children from both sides extremely despaired, but all expressed hope for peace.

Also, Coomaraswamy said she asked Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to hand over to the UN technical teams computer generated data for cluster bombs used during the Lebanon war.

She said general data for the cluster bombs were passed on, but that was not enough to locate them. The United Nations and human rights groups say that Israel dropped about 4 million cluster bombs on Lebanon during the war, and up to 1 million failed to explode, and now act as mines that could explode at any time.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Israel would continue to cooperate with the UN on the matter.

According to the UN, unexploded cluster bombs have killed 29 people and injured 215 since the war ended on August 14. 90 of those injured had been children.

"There is a computer sheet that is generated when targets are attacked. If (UN technical teams) get that information they can identify where the cluster munitions are," Coomaraswamy said.

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