Newsletter - March 2021
Detention figures – According to the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), as of March 2021 there were 4,317 Palestinians (West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza) held as “security prisoners” in detention facilities including approximately 168 children (12-17 years). Based on historical data provided by the IPS since 2015, on average 64% of these children are forcibly transferred and/or unlawfully detained in Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The IPS stopped providing detailed information on child detainees in September 2020. The child detention data above is an extrapolation based on 2 years of data provided by the IPS prior to September 2020. More statistics
ICC Prosecutor's office opens formal investigation into war crimes in Palestinian Territories -
On 3 March 2021, the Office of the Prosecutor (the Office) of the International Criminal Court (the Court) confirmed the initiating of an investigation respecting the Situation in Palestine. The investigation will cover crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed since 13 June 2014. Under the Rome Statute, where a State Party has referred a situation to the Office of the Prosecutor and it is determined that a reasonable basis exists to commence an investigation, the Office is obliged to act. As a first step, the Office is required to notify all States Parties and those States which would normally exercise jurisdiction over the crimes concerned about its investigation. Read more
ICC letter triggering deferral deadline sent to Israel and Palestinian Authority -
On 9 March 2021, the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC sent letters to Israel and the Palestinian Authority notifying them of the opening of a war crimes investigation under Article 18 of the Rome Statute. The letters give Israel and the Palestinian Authority one month to inform the court if they are conducting their own investigations into the alleged crimes and want the probe deferred while that is ongoing. Palestinian officials confirmed they had received the notification. A spokeswoman for the Israeli foreign ministry declined to comment on whether Israel had received it. The ICC is set up as a court of last resort which can step in only if states are unable or unwilling to prosecute their nationals for crimes which fall under ICC jurisdiction. Read more
US State Department: Human Rights Report (March 2021) -
On 30 March 2021, the US State Department published its annual country report on human rights for 2020 (the Report
). The Report is mandated by Congress and documents human rights conditions in nearly 200 countries and territories. Staff in US embassies around the world compile the information contained in the Report. As in previous years the Report highlights human rights violations by multiple actors in the region and considers the treatment of Palestinian children held in Israeli military detention. The State Department confirmed that 80 percent of Palestinians arrested by Israel in the West Bank are detained in prisons inside Israel. This violates the Fourth Geneva Convention
and Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
. Read more
A child's testimony -
On 29 November 2020, a 16-year-old minor from Al' Arrub refugee camp was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 8:00 a.m. He reports being interrogated multiple times without always being informed of his full legal rights.
"At around 8:00 a.m. I walked my younger sister to school and then stopped by a falafel shop to buy a sandwich. There were lots of boys queuing in line and things were quiet. Suddenly two Israeli military jeeps drove towards us and the soldiers started to fire tear gas and stun grenades. Everyone scattered in all directions and I ran as fast as I could.
A military jeep followed me and hit me causing me to fall to the ground. Luckily, I was not hurt. I got up quickly and ran into a nearby house." Read more
A soldier’s testimony - "Why I break the silence" -
In this video a former Israeli soldier provides a testimony to Breaking the Silence explaining why he "breaks the silence". "It was almost a year after I was discharged and it sounded completely unrealistic to me. The reason it sounded unrealistic is exactly the reason I think it is important ... It is irrelevant who the Prime Minister is now ... the mechanism is a bad one ... it's the mission you're required to carry out ... it essentially means you have to be bad ... If I'm good enough for you to send me to do the dirty work then I'm good enough to tell you that I'm dirty. That I'm making you dirty. What is Breaking the Silence's value to Israeli society? ... It offers a different narrative of reality that people are unfamiliar with and we're telling people to read the reality." Video
Due to the non-compliance by the IPS with a Freedom of Information application no disaggregated child detention data has been supplied since September 2020. The child detention figures since September 2020 are calculated by taking the current monthly detention figures (a total figure that does not differentiate between adults and children currently provided to Hamoked by the IPS) and applying the official historic child detention percentage rate based on the total prison population since January 2019 (3.9%). The forcible transfer figures are calculated by taking an average of the monthly transfer figures provided by the IPS over the same period (64%).