Detaining Dreams features the stories of four Palestinian children arrested by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system.
From the moment of arrest, Palestinian children encounter ill-treatment and torture at the hands of Israeli forces. Three out of four experience physical violence during arrest or interrogation.
Since 1967, Israel has operated two separate legal systems in the same territory. In the occupied West Bank, Israeli settlers are subject to the civilian and criminal legal system whereas Palestinians live under military law.
Israel applies civilian criminal law to Palestinian children in East Jerusalem. No Israeli child comes into contact with the military courts.
Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts each year.
Ill-treatment in the Israeli military detention system remains “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized throughout the process,” according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report Children in Israeli Military Detention Observations and Recommendations.
Recent amendments to Israeli military law concerning children have had little to no impact on their treatment during the first 24 to 48 hours after an arrest, when most of the ill-treatment occurs at the hands of Israeli soldiers, police, and the security service.
International juvenile justice standards, which Israel has obliged itself to implement by ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, demand that children should only be deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort and include universal prohibitions against physical violence and torture among other protections. Despite these obligations Israeli authorities persistently disregard and fail to comply with international law.
The No Way to Treat a Child campaign seeks to challenge Israel's prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by exposing widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system.
It is a project of Defense for Children International - Palestine and American Friends Service Committee.
For more information, visit www.nowaytotreatachild.org