Israeli Educators Press Leaders on Arrest of Minors

December 15, 2010

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sixty Israeli educators wrote to the country’s leaders urging them to adhere to the law when arresting and interrogating Palestinian minors in eastern Jerusalem.

The letter organized by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel outlines reports of arrests of children as young as 8, some occurring late at night, and interrogations lacking the presence of a parent — all violations of Israeli law governing the treatment of suspects under 12.

Two top ACRI officials touring Washington Wednesday distributed the letter to Jewish groups and Middle East and civil liberties policy advocates. The letter was sent Nov. 24 to Israel’s prime minister, president, attorney general, justice minister and police minister. It has yet to elicit a response.

“As professionals who specialize in the rights and welfare of children, we feel it is our duty to warn that such encounters may have grave consequences and negative impact on the emotional state and behavioral attitudes of youths and children,” said the letter, which was signed by prominent child psychologists, children’s advocates, education specialists and the authors of children’s literature.

The letter says that according to Israeli government numbers, 1,200 cases have been brought against eastern Jerusalem minors in the past year, although it is not clear what proportion are under 12.

Tensions have increased in recent years as a number of nationalist Jewish groups have moved into traditionally Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, often with government acquiescence.

There have been reports of children on both sides being involved in stone throwing, although the vast majority of arrests have been of Palestinian children, according to ACRI.

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