[26 April 2022] – On 12 April 2022, the US State Department published its annual country report on human rights for 2021 (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.
- Night arrests - Most children continue to be arrested in night-time military raids on their homes. In response to a Supreme Court petition seeking the issuance of summonses in lieu of night arrests, Israeli authorities claimed that a new "classified" procedure went into force on 1 August 2021 which would eliminate night arrests in "certain circumstances". However, the evidence indicates that the night arrest of children continues to increase.
- Notification of arrests - The State Department noted that although Israeli authorities stated their policy was to provide written notification concerning the arrest to parents when they arrested a child at home, the evidence indicates that this policy is disregarded in 53 percent of cases and parents and children are frequently given no information whatsoever about the reasons for arrest, at the time of arrest.
- Blindfolds - In 2019, Israeli authorities clarified that “military orders and regulations forbid the blindfolding of detainees, and action to clarify the rules to the troops acting in the region has been taken and will continue to be taken on a continuous basis.” It was confirmed that blindfolds are only to be used as a rare exception. However recent evidence indicates that 94 percent of children arrested continue to report being blindfolded.
- Physical abuse, threats and confessions - The State Department referred to evidence indicating that 73 percent of Palestinian children detained in the West Bank reported being subjected to various forms of physical abuse during arrest, transfer, or interrogation by Israeli authorities. Further, threats, including the threat to demolish the family home, were used to coerce confessions out of children - confessions that were frequently written in Hebrew.
- Access to lawyers and the right to silence - Under Israeli military law a child has the right to silence and the right to consult with a lawyer prior to interrogation (exceptions apply). However, the State Department referred to evidence indicating that 77 percent of children continue to be denied prompt access to a lawyer and in cases where access is granted, communication occurs over the phone with the interrogator often listening. Most children continue to be denied their right to silence.
- Prosecution in military courts - The State Department noted that Israel has applied military law to Palestinians in the West Bank since 1967 - a practice only permitted under international humanitarian law on a temporary basis. Further, the military courts in the West Bank, reserved exclusively for Palestinians, have dramatically higher conviction rates and impose far longer sentences that the civilian courts used for Israelis.