SYDNEY - A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry has conceded that human rights abuses of Palestinian children in the West Bank are “intolerable” and that having soldiers arrest young kids in the middle of the night is problematic. The admissions by Yigal Palmor were contained in an investigative documentary produced by a team of Australian journalists and aired last night by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Titled “Stone Cold Justice,” the investigation alleged that some Palestinian children were being physically abused, forced into false confessions and targeted in order to gather intelligence on Palestinian activists.
The broadcast prompted local Jewish and Zionist leaders to accuse the Australian journalists of paying “insufficient attention” to the security difficulties faced by Israel and rehashing similar allegations published in 2011.
During the documentary, Palmor describes as “intolerable” the human rights abuses contained in last October’s UNICEF report, which concluded that Palestinian children have been “threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault, against themselves or a family member.”
The maltreatment of Palestinian children appears to be “widespread, systematic and institutionalized,” the report found.
Palmor said: “The natural reaction is that this is intolerable – these are intolerable cases, and that I would like my authorities to do their utmost to make sure that this will not be repeated and that this will change. And I believe that this is precisely what we are doing.”
Palmor also admitted that the nighttime arrests of Palestinian children by soldiers was problematic. “The question of the arrests is a question that needs to be addressed because once you send soldiers and not policemen to arrest people the whole attitude will be different,” he said. “So we need to train soldiers to behave as policemen and that is something that’s not so easy.”
But he defended allegations that Israel’s policy in the West Bank was to create fear. “A policy to create fear? There is no such thing,” he said. “The only policy is to maintain law and order, that’s all. If there’s no violence, there’s no law enforcement.”