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The Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine, Neoklis Sylikiotis (GUE/NGL, CY), issued the following statement:

“On Universal Children’s Day, we express our deep concern that scores of children continue to be arbitrarily arrested, tortured and detained without trial in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Since 2000, at least 8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested and prosecuted in Israel’s military detention system, which is notorious for the systematic ill-treatment and torture of children.

Hundreds of Palestinian minors, some as young as 12, are held in Israeli prisons as security detainees and prisoners each year, mostly charged with stone throwing or posting messages on social media. In 2018, 14 children spent time in solitary confinement in Israeli military prisons.

Nadim Zahra, a Palestinian teenager who testified in front of our delegation, was arrested seven times, the first time when he was 13. He spoke of the maltreatment and abuse he suffered during his arrests, interrogation and detention at the hands of Israeli security forces.

Mr Zahra’s testimony in Strasbourg last week confirmed what we witnessed first-hand during our visit to the Occupied Territories in 2017. We saw with our own eyes the pre-fabricated cages in which children were detained. We heard of how Palestinian children are made to sign confessions under duress, in a language they do not understand.

Our delegation expresses solidarity with the individuals and organisations who are fighting to protect the rights of children in Palestine, notably the pro-bono lawyers and organisations who stand by children at their most vulnerable moment.

We call upon the European Commission, the European External Action Service and the Member States to put pressure on Israel to abide by its international obligations as an occupying power, as a signatory of the 1959 UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child, and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In view of these flagrant breaches of human rights, the European Union must reconsider its relationship with Israel including its Association Agreement, which is conditional on respect of human rights.”


Office of MEP Neoklis SYLIKIOTIS

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