Israel continues to detain hundreds of Palestinian children and subject them to military courts amidst the pandemic.

Since the beginning of this year, occupying Israeli forces have arrested more than 230 Palestinian children, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS).

The report is meant to coincide with Palestinian Children's Day on April 5, which highlights Palestinian children's ill-treatment by the occupying Israeli authorities.

According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem in 2020, more than 1,600 minors were held in Israeli custody. Israeli officials have started to withhold numbers that could reveal the true scale of detention of children.

The PPS has only monitored arrests in the occupied city of Jerusalem, the number in the occupied territories of the West Bank could be much higher.

Israeli forces regularly arrest minors engaged in protests against the occupation. The victims are either released on bail or placed under house arrest.

"The imprisoned children are subjected to various forms of abuse, including being denied food or drink for long hours, verbal abuse and being detained under harsh conditions," said the Israeli rights group PPS, which also monitors the conditions of those detained in Israeli prisons.

Since the 1967 occupation of the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, Israel has operated two legal systems in the same territories.

Israeli Jews who have illegally settled on Palestinian land are subject to civilian and criminal legal proceedings as in Israel. In contrast, Palestinians content with military law, which is often more arbitrary.

While Palestinian children regularly contend with Israeli military courts, no Israeli child deals with such courts.

According to the Palestinian branch of Defense for Children International (DCI), "Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that automatically and systematically prosecutes children in military courts that lack fundamental fair trial rights and protections. Israel prosecutes between 500 and 700 Palestinian children in military courts each year."

The United Nations, human rights body dealing with the protection of children, Unicef, has called for the immediate release of all Palestinian minors held in Israeli prisons.

As the Covid-19 pandemic has raged in Israel and Palestine, Unicef called for the release of all Palestinian children held in detention, citing their welfare needs and strongly urged Israel to "put a moratorium on new admissions into detention facilities."

A call that has largely fallen by the wayside as Israel has continued rounding up Palestinian minors.

A report by Unicef on Palestinian minors found that the "ill-treatment of [Palestinian] children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process, from the moment of arrest until the child's prosecution and eventual conviction and sentencing."

The report went on to say that "It is understood that in no other country are children systematically tried by juvenile military courts that, by definition, fall short of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure respect for their rights."

Source: TRT World