EU must denounce Israeli soldiers’ misconduct

29 August 2012

EU must denounce Israeli soldiers’ misconduct

Palestinian children are being regularly mistreated by Israeli soldiers, according to “Breaking the Silence”, an Israeli veterans’ organisation which this week published a report on the matter. ‘This is shocking,’ says SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong. ‘Even if these are individual cases, this must be raised with Israel by Catherine Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs. It is now at the very least not the moment to offer Israel additional trade privileges, as the European Union would like to.’

The SP has put written questions calling on Catherine Ashton to take swift action, as De Jong explains. ‘According to the report Israeli soldiers are given no instructions regarding the treatment of children. Because of this, numerous abuses occur, such as depriving children of food and drink for as long as twenty-four hours, or beating them if they refuse to sing the Israeli national anthem. Children are regularly subject to arbitrary arrest. According to humanitarian rules of war, children - even those involved in hostilities - must as far as possible be protected and, if arrested, must be treated decently.’

In view of the country’s illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories, the SP was already opposed to extending trade privileges to Israel. Despite the settlements, however, the EU is discussing additional agreements and the European Parliament will shortly vote on any accord. ‘I support absolutely continuing to talk with Israel, but this must take the form of a critical dialogue on human rights, and not a discussion centred on trade,’ says De Jong. ‘Only when satisfactory agreements have been reached regarding the settlements and other human rights problems will it once again be possible to talk about extending trade privileges.´

The report can be downloaded from www.breakingthesilence.org: Children and Youth - Soldiers' Testimonies 2005-2011 (PDF, 553 KB).

The text of the questions:

1. Is the High Representative aware of the recently published report from Breaking the Silence Children and Youth - Soldiers´ Testimonies 2005-2011?. In this report Israeli veterans (enlisted personnel and officers) state that the Israeli army systematically mistreated Palestinian children, speaking of intimidation, verbal violence and humiliation of Palestinian children by soldiers. There are reports of arrests of children and degrading treatment in custody. For example, sitting through the night alone, tied up and blindfolded on a chair, being beaten with no clear cause, verbal abuse and refusal of medical attention. Also mentioned was the use by soldiers of children as a physical shield, despite the fact that this is forbidden. Teargas was employed against children throwing stones, and they were even fired on.

2. What does the High Representative think of this report? How will its findings influence the relationship of the EU with Israel?

3. Does the High Representative see grounds to suspend the current negotiations over new agreements, such as those which are currently being conducted with regard to trade and the opening of airspace, until such time as concrete measures are taken and proof given that these practices are no longer occurring and that they will in the future be prevented?

Note: This is the SP’s own, unofficial translation. An official translation will be available later on the European Parliament website, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/plenary/en/parliamentary-questions.html.

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