As the occupying power of the Palestinian territories, and signatory to the 4th Geneva Convention, Israel is under a number of legal obligations with regards to prisoners. These include:
- Not detaining prisoners outside the territory under occupation
- Not subjecting prisoners to torture or coercion
- Not sentencing prisoners without a proper trial, which includes the right to present evidence, call witnesses and be represented by a lawyer who can visit them freely.
Israel is in violation of many of these obligations, currently holding about 4,500 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
In June 2012, a delegation of senior lawyers from the UK published a report reviewing the law and practice applicable to children prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. “Children in Military Custody”, funded by the Foreign Office, concluded that Israel is in breach of 7 articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) including discrimination, child’s best interests, premature resort to detention, non-separation from adults, prompt access to lawyers, and use of shackles.
The report sets out 40 recommendations for areas of improvement in relation to arrest, interrogation, bail hearings, plea bargains, trial, sentencing, detention, complaints and monitoring. Specifically highlighted was the fact that Israel should not discriminate between those children over whom it exercises penal jurisdiction, and military law and public administration should treat Palestinian and Israeli children equally.
The number of Palestinian children in Israeli detention and interrogation facilities is reported to have increased by 27.5% from March to April 2013.