Initial Analysis of B’Tselem/HaMoked Report on Children’s Detention in Jerusalem
On October 25, 2017, B’Tselem and HaMoked published a joint report, “Unprotected: The Detention of Palestinian Teenagers in East Jerusalem.” NGO Monitor’s initial analysis reveals that these NGOs are participating in a well-funded international campaign against Israel surrounding the issue of children’s rights. The publication also suffers from fundamental methodological flaws, highlighting the appropriation of human rights for political objectives.
- The publication is part of an international NGO-led campaign of demonization that falsely accuses Israel of abusing children’s rights. The allegation that this policy is “systematic” and “extensive,” language taken from the Rome Statute’s definition of crimes against humanity, reflects lawfare – an attempt to drive indictments at the International Criminal Court (ICC). (For more details, see NGO Monitor’s reports, “The Origins of ‘No Way to Treat a Child’” and “No Way to Represent a Child: Defence for Children International – Palestine’s Distortions of the Israeli Justice System.”)
- The report bears the European Union logo. HaMoked and B’Tselem are co-beneficiaries of a two-year, €200,000 grant (expiring December 2017) from the EU, “Youth in Detention: Preventing mistreatment of detained Palestinian minors in East Jerusalem.” The title of the project already prejudices the research findings and indicates the politicized aims of the project, the NGO implementers, and its funder.
- The NGOs acknowledge that police behavior almost always “remains…within legal provisions” and the “exceptions [the law] provides.” This includes instances of nighttime arrests, restraints, contacting parents, interrogation practices, etc. Therefore, attempts to impugn the police for acting according to Israeli procedures and international norms are inconsistent with a commitment to rule of law.
- The report is based on testimonies from a small group of minors accused of violent offenses. (The report refers to stone-throwing, but there may be other, more serious charges as well.) B’Tselem and HaMoked do not provide broader or comparative data that portray standard police practices regarding crimes by both Israeli and Palestinian minors. It is distinctly possible that, indeed, these are the “rare exceptions,” due to the violent nature of the accusations, where Israeli law permits, for instance, arrests of minors.
- The time period examined in this report saw heightened terrorism and extreme violence by minors. As with other publications in the children’s rights campaign against Israel, this context is minimized if not erased.
- The context of law enforcement in Jerusalem is essential, however ignored by the authors. All Jerusalem residents, whether Israeli or Palestinian, are subject to the same Israeli law and face the same justice system. For instance, Jewish minors are also detained at the Russian Compound, so any deficiencies do not reflect “institutional, systemic discrimination” against Palestinian residents as stated by the NGO authors.
- Does HaMoked, a legal aid NGO, represent these minors? If so, this report is part of client advocacy, not human rights analysis. And did they raise the claims to the courts and through other formal complaint mechanisms? HaMoked had a duty to do so to achieve a dismissal, and failure to do so would be an ethical violation, if not malpractice.