Accused of targeting Palestinian children

Today the Jerusalem Post reports on an international campaign being conducted against Israel, accusing its security forces of targeting Palestinian children.

The next part of that campaign is due to develop on Friday, which is the 14th birthday of a young prisoner called Manasrah. He is the youngster who was at the centre of controversy in October when President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of executing him in cold blood – an accusation that prompted the release of photographs showing him being treated in an Israeli hospital.

Westminster Hall Debate

The text of a British Parliamentary debate on this issue makes fascinating reading. Titled 'Child Prisoners and Detainees: Occupied Palestinian Territories', the debate was introduced by the Shadow Home Office Minister, Sarah Champion, who quoted a UNICEF report that stated: ‘the ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process, from the moment of arrest until the child’s prosecution and eventual conviction and sentencing’.

Those who spoke in support of Israel's behaviour were few, one of them being Louise Ellman who asked whether Sarah Champion accepts 'that the context in which these situations occur is an organised campaign conducted by the Palestinian authorities of incitement, to try to provoke young Palestinians to carry out acts of violence towards other civilians, some of which result in death, including the death of young children?’

In an article commenting on this debate, the 'War On Want' group claim that the Israelis are using a 'time-honoured tactic' in targeting children. They claim that the objective is 'to keep them from taking political action … and to put pressure on their families and communities to stop all social mobilisation.'

But once again there is compelling video evidence that supports the violent context of these events. To counter claims of Manasrah's innocence, Israeli police have distributed a video showing him and his cousin carrying out the attacks of which he is now accused. Many people around the world support his claim that he does not remember the attacks. But is that tenable in the face of such evidence?