Comparative graph
Fact sheet
About us
Bookmark and Share
  change font size تصغير الخط تكبير الخط print
Home » Public statements »

The link between illegal Israeli settlements and child detention

[29 February 2024] - Based on evidence collected by MCW between 2013-2024, there is a direct link between illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and the arrest and subsequent unlawful treatment of Palestinian children living in the same territory. The link is both geographical and logistical: 

  • Geographical link - Approximately 98 percent of Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank live within several kilometres of an illegal Israeli settlement, or related infrastructure, such as roads.
  •  Logistical link - Illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank play a key logistical role in the arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention of Palestinian children, with each step in the process involving unlawful conduct. 
The scale of Israel's illegal settlement project in the occupied West Bank is substantial and continuing. Recent data indicates that nearly 500,000 Israeli civilians now live in illegal settlements and outposts in the occupied West Bank, with a further 250,000 living in occupied East Jerusalem. 
While there is no serious legal dispute that Israel's settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal - a position confirmed by: the Fourth Geneva ConventionUN Security Council Resolutions; an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice; and internal Israeli government legal advice - successive Israeli governments of every political persuasion have made settlement construction a priority - as evidenced by their relentless growth, regardless of circumstances. This expansion is entirely consistent with a policy of annexation and potential transfer of the Palestinian population. It should also be noted that while successive Israeli governments reject the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied West Bank as a defence to illegal settlement activity, the same governments rely on the Convention to justify prosecuting Palestinian civilians in military courts. 
Simply put, in order to safeguard half-a-million Israeli settlers living in occupied territory, Palestinian communities adjacent to the settlements are subjected to a heavy military presence, resulting in, inter alia, friction, detention, torture and ill-treatment, denial of basic legal rightsunlawful transfer and generational resentment. It is neither surprising, nor a coincidence, that 98 percent of Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank live within a few kilometers of these settlements. In the remaining two percent of cases, children are detained near the "Separation Wall", at military checkpoints, or in Area A.
Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank also play a key logistical role in the detention of children, acting as staging posts for military raids on Palestinian villages, hosting military bases, police stations, interrogation and detention centres, or simply acting as convenient places to leave children until it is logistically convenient to process them onwards through the system. The evidence confirms that abuse at these locations is prevalent. These settlements include, but are not limited to: ArielBeit ElBinyaminBeitar IllitBrachaElon MoreGush EtzionGiloGivat Ha'hadashaHaggaiHalamishHar HomaKarmei TzurKarmei ShomronKedumim, Kiryat ArbaKochav Ya'akovMa'ale AdumimMa'ale MichmashMevo DotanMod'in IllitOfraOtnielPesagotShakedShavei ShomronShilo and Yakir.
After 56 years of illegal Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, the US, EU, UK, Canada and Australia, perhaps the most vociferous supporters of the "rules-based order", have now managed to impose, or are considering imposing, sanctions on a handful of inconsequential residents of these settlements for what amounts to a state sponsored war crime - whilst at the same time shielding the political, legal and military establishments, as well as the domestic and foreign financiers, from legal accountability. This response not only erodes confidence in a viable "rules-based order" but also diminishes the credibility and influence of those expressing support for such an order.  

Israeli settler population in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem) (1967-2023) (Source: ICBS)