On December 31, 2013, in advance of a Knesset Public Petitions Committee meeting on “Conditions of arrest and imprisonment of Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria,” the Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI), published a statement titled, “Childhood is not a Privilege but a Right!”
Previous NGO Monitor analysis of PCATI reports demonstrates that the NGO uses unreliable sources, including radical anti-Israel NGOs, such as Defense for Children International-Palestine Section (DCI-PS), as well as claims of convicted prisoners who have an incentive to exaggerate or falsify the conditions of their incarceration. PCATI also levels unverifiable accusations at Israeli security services and the Israeli justice system and relies on questionable statistical data, while removing the context of terrorism. PCATI appears to have repeated these systematic methodological failures.
In both media accounts, PCATI’s allegation that Israeli authorities place Palestinian “prisoners in iron cages (including children)” received the most publicity. The allegation is based on a report (December 17,2013) authored by the Israeli Public Defender’s Office (PDO), which stated that “prisoners [including minors] were moved in the middle of the night into outside cages…where they waited a number of hours, exposed to the rain and cold, until they were taken to the court at six in the morning.” However, as noted by Presspectiva (CAMERA Israel), PCATI distorted the findings of the PDO report. The Public Defender was not referring to Palestinian security prisoners, but to Israeli criminals. Additionally, once this practice was brought to the attention of the Justice Minister, it was immediately stopped – before PCATI’s statement was released. PCATI has since published a clarification (January 8, 2014) on this issue.
It is also notable, that while The Jerusalem Post article quotes PCATI listing a number of positive developments, including the establishment of an independent body for investigating the General Security Service (GSS), the NGO’s press release (which was published solely in English), does not mention any of these developments. Instead, based on information from radical NGOs such as DCI-PS (a leader in BDS campaigns) and Breaking the Silence (a leader in propagating Israeli “war crimes” myths), PCATI asserts that Israel fails “to protect Palestinian children from direct and indirect torture and ill treatment.”
PCATI’s failure to note the many changes and improvements implemented by Israel indicates that the purpose of the press statement was not to raise awareness to objective facts. Rather, PCATI’s only contribution was the international demonization of Israel.