‘Under Occupation’, which is based upon recent delegations to the West Bank by the Britain-Palestine Group (BPAPPG) and the Council for Arab British Understanding (Caabu), includes firsthand accounts from MPs that witnessed the trials of Palestinian minors in the Israeli military court system.
The report shows that approximately 700 Palestinian children are prosecuted every year in such courts and that at the end of January 2011, 222 Palestinian children were being held in Israeli jails.
Richard Burden MP, Chair of the BPAPPG, led a delegation at the end of November 2010. Commenting on the publication of the BPAPPG report he said:
‘This new report by the Britain-Palestine Group looks at the impact of the occupation on Palestinians living in the West Bank. Having been to Palestine many times, I thought the area had lost its capacity to shock me. But when I saw the military court and what went on there, I knew that the area still had the capacity to shock me, with a vengeance.
‘When I saw children come into the room, shuffling because their legs are shackled together, and with their hands in handcuffs, it hit me. It hit me even more to be told by an observer, a brave Israeli woman who monitors what goes on in such courtrooms week in, week out, that what we saw was better than normal. ‘It hit me when I saw the look on the face of a child who only wanted to see his mother, who had come to the court to see her child, probably for the first time since he was arrested in the middle of the night. ‘When one sees such things for oneself, one cannot ignore it and say, “Well, this is just something to do with the political situation there.” It is totally unacceptable and, as we say in the report, the mass arrest and ill treatment of children has to end.’
The report also looks at issues including: the impact of illegal settlements and the barrier; actions by Israel to reduce the Arab identity of East Jerusalem; increasing incidents of settler violence; widespread restrictions on Palestinians living in Area C; Palestinian municipal, presidential and legislative elections; political negotiations; and, the role of the international community.
In the report the BPAPPG calls for:
- An end to the mass arrest and ill treatment of children;
- An immediate halt to the construction of settlements and the barrier outside of the green line;
- A reversal of Israel’s policy of reducing the Arab identity of East Jerusalem;
- Greater international protection for vulnerable communities living in Area C;
- The European Union to make a more active and assertive role;
- A proper framework for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to be developed;
- Palestinian municipal, presidential and legislative elections to be held as soon as possible;
- Human rights and political opposition to be respected across the OPT.