Gaza: Donne incinte ed i loro neonati contaminati da metalli pesanti legati agli attacchi israeliani

La rivista scientifica British Medical Journal  Open ha pubblicato uno studio svolto a Gaza su 502 donne in gravidanza al momento degli attacchi israeliani del 2014. Questo lavoro riporta un alto tasso di contaminazione nei capelli in metalli pesanti nelle donne esposte agli attacchi e  in proporzione nei i capelli dei loro bambini.

5 Agosto 2017, Paola Manduca, Prof. Genetics
Genoa, Italy

I metalli pesanti utilizzati durante le guerre, contengono elementi tossici, teratogeni e cancerogeni. Essi sono noti come perturbatori endocrini. Essi sono resistenti nell’ambiente, si accumulano nel corpo, ed i loro effetti sugli esseri viventi persistono ancor più se questi metalli pesanti non vengono rimossi dall’ambiente (armi, schegge, missili, rovine contaminate …). Ricercatori italiani, finlandesi e di Gaza hanno dimostrato che la contaminazione da metalli pesanti è un fattore di rischio  a lungo termine per la salute delle donne incinte e dei loro bambini.

Questi ricercatori hanno analizzato la quantità di 23 tipi di metalli nei capelli delle donne  di Gaza, che erano in stato di gravidanza durante l’estate del 2014, e in quelli dei bambini a cui hanno dato luce più tardi, e trovato che queste erano superiori al contenuto dei metalli nei capelli di donne al di fuori di zone di guerra.

Essi hanno anche studiato la trasmissione in utero metalli pesanti, così come la possibilità che l’assunzione fosse dovuta a fattori diversi ed estranei alla guerra.

Lo studio ha usato spettrometria con plasma-massa (ICP-MS) e sono stati fatti confronti con gruppi esposti agli agenti chimici domestici e agricoli.

I risultati mostrano un carico in metalli pesante significativamente più alto per le donne esposte ad attacchi militari, proporzionale ma piu basso nei loro neonati che però sono più frequentemente colpite da difetti congeniti o nati prematuramente.

E’ stata raccolta testimonianza e poi documentata con visite in loco,  la frequenza di esposizione ad attacchi militari delle donne; circa il 70% delle madri, sono state coinvolte in attacchi, il che suggerisce una alta contaminazione  di tutta la popolazione.

Gli autori raccomandano “monitoraggio, biomonitoraggio e sorveglianza nel tempo  su questo tema di ricerca di interesse pubblico” per il quale, fanno notare, “non siamo in grado di sapere se c’è anche il rischio di effetti transgenerazionali”.  Difetti congeniti sono stati osservati più frequentemente nei nati da madri esposte ad attacchi militari in Iraq e a Gaza (dopo gli attacchi nel 2008-2009).

Gli autori della ricerca sono Paola Manduca, Safwat Y Diab, R Qouta Samir Nabil Albarqouni, Raiija-Leena Punamaki, con la collaborazione di Fabrizio Minichilli, e Fabrizio Bianchi per l’analisi statistica.

Articolo integrale.

Documento completo in inglese, formato PDF.

Invictapalestina ringrazia tutti coloro che partecipando alla nostra iniziativa del 2014, ci hanno permesso di contribuire al finanziamento della ricerca con 500 euro.

thanks to: invictapalestina

A cross sectional study of the relationship between the exposure of pregnant women to military attacks in 2014 in Gaza and the load of heavy metal contaminants in the hair of mothers and newborns

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  1. Paola Manduca1,
  2. Safwat Y Diab2,
  3. Samir R Qouta3,
  4. Nabil MA Albarqouni3,
  5. Raiija-Leena Punamaki4

Author affiliations

  1. DISTAV, University of Genoa, Genova, Italy
  2. Al-Quds Open University-Gaza Branch, Gaza, Gaza Strip, Palestine
  3. Islamic University of Gaza, Gaza, Palestine
  4. University of Tampere, School of Social Sciences and Humanities/Psychology, Tampere, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Prof. Paola Manduca; paolamanduca@gmail.com

Abstract

Objective Metal contamination of humans in war areas has rarely been investigated. Weaponry’s heavy metals become environmentally stable war remnants and accumulate in living things. They also pose health risks in terms of prenatal intake, with potential long term risks for reproductive and children’s health. We studied the contribution of military attacks to the load of 23 metals in the hair of Palestinian women in the Gaza Strip, who were pregnant at the time of the military attacks in 2014, and their newborns. We compared the metal load in the mothers with values for adult hair from outside the war area (RHS) as the reference. We investigated heavy metals trans-passing in utero, and assessed if the heavy metal intake could derive from sources unrelated to the war.

Design Cross sectional study.

Participants and setting Cross sectional convenience sample of 502 mothers delivering in the Gaza Strip and their newborns.

Main outcome measured Measure of the load of heavy metals in mother and newborn hair by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Comparison of metal loads with the reference RHS, between groups with different exposures to attacks and house/agriculture chemicals, and between mothers and newborns. Data for birth registry and for exposures to war and other known risk factors were obtained at interview with the mothers. Photographic documentation of damage from military attacks was obtained.

Results The whole cross sectional convenience sample had a significantly higher load of heavy metals than the reference RHS. Women exposed to military attacks had a significantly higher load of heavy metals than those not exposed; the load in newborns correlated positively with the mothers’ load. No significant difference was found between users/non-users of house/agriculture chemicals. No other known confounder was identified.

Conclusions High heavy metal loads in mothers, reflected in those of their newborns, were associated with exposure to military attacks, posing a risk of immediate and long term negative outcomes for pregnancy and child health. Surveillance, biomonitoring and further research are recommended. Implications for general and public health are discussed.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Strength and limitations of this study

  • The lack of ‘never exposed to war’ controls within Gaza is a limitation of the study which cannot be overcome.

  • A general limitation of this type of study is that the risks posed in the long term by the intake of multiple heavy metals are still largely unknown in humans, and in particular during pregnancy.

  • The size of the sample, while adequate to identify the correlation between levels of heavy metals with environmental exposure, is not large enough to accurately study the negative outcomes at birth (birth defects and preterm) due to their low frequency.

  • A strength of the study is the inclusion of a relatively large cross sectional convenience sample of participants, allowing for subgroups of exposure, suitable in size for statistical analysis.

  • An important point was the inclusion of analyis of newborn hair in for metal load. .

  • Verification by in loco visits the recall of exposure of women on an objective basis gives additional strength to the study.

  • Development of a questionnaire and of procedures that allowed information to be obtained on various habits and different potentially risky environmental exposures, -allowing to exclude some more likely potential confounders.

  • The analysis of microelements and metals not associated with weaponry provided an internal control for the analytic results.

Introduction

Women and children are highly vulnerable during periods of war and military attacks, as well as in the aftermath of war, because of the possibility of the long term effects of war related environmental changes on reproductive and infant health. Accumulation in human bodies of toxicants and heavy metal teratogens found in the remnants of war occurs, that, coupled with their long persistence in the environment, suggests a considerable risk for health.1–6 The effects of toxicants, teratogens and carcinogens related to heavy metals have been found in embryos at concentrations lower than in adults.7 8 During the first trimester of pregnancy, major morphogenetic events occur, and is the period of highest sensitivity of the embryo to external effectors. Apart from the mutational risks posed by some of the heavy metals, there is compelling evidence of their prevalent epigenetic mechanisms of action.8–15 Heavy metals act as endocrine disruptors,8 and their interference with gene expression causes disturbances in various metabolic and hormonal pathways.9 The epigenetic mechanisms are an essential part of the current understanding of the developmental origin of health and disease.11–15 Reports show that heavy metals accumulate in specific body compartments and can be released during pregnancy.9 12–15 However, relatively little is known about the kinetics, modalities and accumulation of heavy metals in compartments of the human body. Also, not much is known about the following phenomena: the effects of human subjects’ concurrent intake of multiple toxic metals, the kinetics of the passage of heavy metals through the placenta and the critical concentrations that affect the embryo and fetus.

In addition to the risks posed by acute exposure, persistence of heavy metals in the environment may cause people to be continually exposed which, combined with the accumulation of heavy metals in different compartments of the body, adds to the concerns about the long term negative effects on health. The long term effects of metals via epigenetic mechanisms can occur in mothers, fetuses exposed in utero and in breastfed infants and children; these effects could even be transgenerational.10–13 16 17

Military attacks are a source of heavy metal input in war zone environments, and may influence the health of the population and affect the outcomes of pregnancies.4 16 The prevalence of birth defects increased in areas heavily exposed to military attacks in Iraq,18 and in Gaza after the Israeli military operation of Cast Lead in 2008–200919 and since the implementation of air delivered weapons in attacks.20 Previous research in Gaza also showed that women’s exposure to military attacks (courtesy of the database of the United Nations’ mine action team) correlated with a higher incidence of progeny with birth defects.20 21 Hair analysis for metal load of infants born prematurely or with birth defects to mothers who experienced military attacks revealed in utero contamination of the babies. The heavy metal load in these newborns was higher than that of normal newborn babies for teratogens (mercury and selenium) in babies with birth defects and for toxicants (barium and tin) in premature babies.22 Together, the data show an association of the damage to newborn health with maternal exposure to attacks, and the trans-placental passage of wartime heavy metal remnants from exposed mothers to their progeny in utero.

Three major wars, with their complex consequences for the environment, may have been the single most influential determinant of change in the living conditions and in the demography of Gaza from 2008 to 2014. The context of the current study is the aftermath of the 2014 Israeli military operation ‘Protective edge’ in Gaza, which lasted for 55 days and had massive effects on civilian life. This operation left widespread structural destruction,23–28 with physical remnants of war, including components of weapons, shrapnel and missiles, as well as environmentally stable chemical elements and contaminated ruins, throughout the area.29 The weapons used in these attacks were documented by the United Nations and other reputable sources, and included missiles, mortars, explosive devices and bombs of various sizes, with or without penetrator heads. The content of heavy metals in each weapon differed, and each had a different range of spread, from metres to hundreds of metres or more.23–29 The Israeli government does not make available a list of weapons used, and all data are directly from United Nations’ agencies and independent witnesses on the ground. Removal of explosive war remnants and the debris of demolition began only 6–8 months after the end of hostilities and involved the creation of open air deposits and the reuse of materials from demolished structures. No transfers of debris could be conducted outside the area of the Gaza Strip.29 Thus any contamination due to the 2014 war remained in the local environment from the time of the attacks throughout the period of our study.

The aim of the study was to investigate whether there were changes in the metal load of a representative segment of the female population after military attacks, particularly with respect to heavy metal contaminants with known teratogen, toxicant and carcinogenic effects, which could pose long term risks for health because of their stability in the environment and tendency to accumulate in the human body. We investigated the extent of exposure to attacks in a cross sectional convenience sample of women who had been in their first trimester of pregnancy during the attacks in the summer of 2014 and who entered one of four major maternity hospitals in Gaza for delivery. The correlation between maternal contamination and their newborns’ was also investigated.

Methods

Participants

Participants were 502 mothers who were in their first trimester of pregnancy during the 2014 war on Gaza and who delivered between late January and March 2015 in one of four maternity wards: Al-Shifa (n=202), Al-Awda (n=100), Al-Nasser (n=100) and Al-Aqsa (n=100). All participants were residents in one of four Gaza Strip governorates. There were no exclusion criteria at enrollment; no participant data were discarded after the interviews, and all donated hair samples were analysed.

Procedures

One midwife in each hospital registered all the deliveries occurring during her work shift and obtained the participants’ written informed consent for participation in the study. The midwife collected the hair samples from mothers and newborns. The midwife also administered a face to face interview with the mothers, following a prepared questionnaire.20–22 This included the standards of European and US birth registers and was integrated previously to include the health history of the extended family (to the second degree), and questions about environmental exposure, including the mothers’ recollections of their exposures to military attacks and a variety of potentially risky habits. This questionnaire was thus an apt tool for the surveillance of changes in reproductive health, including of the inherited component of newborn congenital diseases, and it was useful for establishing correlations with major environmental changes in Gaza. The Palestinian Health Research Council and the Helsinki Committee for Ethical Approval approved the study. The Research Board in the Islamic University of Gaza, Palestine, reviewed and approved the research tools and procedures. Mothers’ recollections of their exposures to attacks were corroborated with objectively documented damage to their dwellings, if the women reported the attacks occurring while they were at home.

Measures

In the present study, the metal load in the hair of mothers and newborns was determined by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) using the methodology recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for testing human exposure to environmental metals.30 We analysed women’s and newborns’ hair for the metal components of weaponry already identified in 2009 at weapons’ wound sites in the bodies of victims of attacks.6 We had also detected these metal components contaminating the hair samples of 65 of 95 children tested 1 year after the attacks of Cast lead (Manduca, unpublished data). We also found some of these metals contaminating the hair of newborns in 2011.21 22 Finally, we tested 23 metals, including known weapon components and war remnants, such as lead (Pb), barium (Ba), mercury (Hg), arsenic (As), zinc (Zn), cadmium (Cd), tin (Sn), uranium (U), tungsten (W) and aluminium (Al). As an internal control, we also measured other metals and microelements that have biological relevance but are not weapons related.

We compared the metal load of thecross sectional convenience sample of Gaza women with values for adult hair from outside the war area (RHS).31 We analysed whether the metal loads in mothers were correlated with those in newborns.

Heavy metal concentrations are expressed as ppm (parts per million). Maternal hair (4 cm) was taken nearest to the scalp at the nape of the neck, which reflected environmental exposure during the last 4–5 months of pregnancy and the eventual release of metals previously accumulated in the body. Hair from newborns reflected the accumulation of metals through life in utero.

All hair was preserved in plastic bags until the moment of analysis, according to the recommendations of the IAEA, in the Pacific Rim Laboratory, ISO/Tec 17 250 accredited (Canada). Analytical procedures were performed according to previous protocols.19 In brief, 0.2 g of washed hair was added to 2 mL of HNO3 and 2 mL of H2O2, heated to 85°C for 2 hours and added at room temperature to 6 mL of water. Samples were run in Agilent 7700. The limits of detection (ppm) were: aluminium (Al) and iron (Fe) 0.4; magnesium (Mg), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), manganese (Mn) and titanium (Ti) 0.04; barium (Ba), cobalt (Co) and chromium (Cr) 0.02; arsenic (As), cesium (Cs) and molybdenum (Mo) 0.001; cadmium (Cd) and uranium (U) 0.0001; mercury (Hg) 0.0004; nickel (Ni) 0.15; selenium (Se) 0.22; tin (Sn) and tungsten (W) 0.03; strontium (Sr) 0.01; vanadium (V) 0.002; and zinc (Zn) 0.3. Experimental values below the limits of detection for each metal were considered equal to 0 0 for the purposes of statistical analysis, which was conducted using median values. Commercial analytical standards of hair for calibration purposes were run in parallel (NCS ZC 81002b and NCS DC73347a; China National Analysis Centre for Iron and Steel).

Exposure to military attacks

The variable exposure of women to military attacks was indicated by self-reporting and verified by photographic documentation. Women responded ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to five questions: whether their own house was bombed during the 2014 war, whether the house next door was bombed during the 2014 war, whether they were inside their home at the time of the attack, whether they were displaced afterwards and whether they found spent ammunition inside their dweling. Based on these answers, they were grouped according to their ‘proximity of exposure to attacks’. The concept of proximal exposure was formulated on the realisation that attacks very often involved the spread of weapons’ parts to adjacent houses. The term ‘proximally exposed” was used to identify women whose homes or neighbouring homes were attacked. The proximally exposed group was divided into two subgroups according to their continuous habitation in the places where the attacks occurred: women who remained in or next to the house that had been bombarded or shelled, and women who moved elsewhere at some time after the attack. Creation of these subgroups reflects the concern that women with ongoing residence at the locations of the attacks might have had different exposures to war remnants than those who had moved. This concern was, ultimately, unfounded. A third group included women who had no recollection of any exposure. In October 2015, we visited the women in subgroups 1 and 2 and photographically documented the damage that had occurred during the military attacks on their dwellings.

Exposure to potential civilian sources of metal contamination

We tested whether other known potential sources of contamination by heavy metals correlated with the mothers’ distribution of metal load. Women were asked about their own use of agricultural substances (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides) and generic household chemicals of unknown composition, their consumption of three main types of medicines and of three prenatal prevention supplements, their use of three available sources of water for drinking and cooking, their frequency of eating fish and their history of smoking. For statistical analyses, a dichotomy variable was formed with 1=women reporting the use of agricultural and household chemicals and 2=non-users.

Statistical methods

The metal loads (ppm) found in the hair of mothers, reported as median values and interquartile ranges, were statistically compared. The first analysis involved the 95th percentile values of the whole cohort and of each exposure group compared with those values for the hair from adults of both sexes from areas unaffected by war (RHS, Germany, by Micro Trace Minerals, MTM; USA by Trace Minerals International, TMI).31 No equivalent reference was available for the newborns’ metal load. The second analysis compared the metal loads within the cross sectional convenience sample between groups proximally exposed and unexposed to military attacks. The third analysis compared the metal loads between users and non-users of agricultural and household chemicals.

In analysing the findings in this study, quantile regression analysis was used because it allowed for the modelling of any percentile or quartile of the outcome, represented in this study by metal distribution, including the median. Furthermore, the Shapiro–Wilk and Pearson’s χ2 normality tests showed that metal concentrations were not normally distributed, and log transformation did not lead to satisfactory results. Quantile regression analysis has the advantage of being more robust against outliers in the outcome variables than least squares regression (linear) and, as a semi-parametric tool, it avoids assumptions about the parametric distribution of the error process.

The relationships between 23 metal concentrations and exposures to military attacks were analysed by multiple quantile regression models, least absolute value models (LAV or MAD) and minimum L1 norm models.32 The quantile regression models, fit by QREG STATA COMMAND, express the quantiles and the conditional distribution as linear functions of the independent variables which, in this case, are exposure and any confounders. Spearman correlations were used to identify the associations between mothers’ and newborns’ metal concentrations. All analyses were performed using STATA v.13.

Results

In this sample, median age of the women was 26.9±5.92 years (range 16–52), and 2.5% of participants were younger than 18 years. Of the 502 women, 26.7% were carrying their first pregnancy during the war, and the majority (88.8%) worked at home. Prenatal care efforts, including consumption of iron, vitamins and folic acid, were undertaken by 89% of women. A total of 29% reported a diagnosis of anaemia while 0.5% reported a diagnosis of diabetes. The prevalence of preterm delivery was 1.5%; the prevalence of low birth weight (<2.5 kg) was 2.3%. Of the infants in the study, 4.5% were born with birth defects, and all were born alive, although one baby died in the minutes after birth.

Figure 1A shows the percentages of participants residing in each of the four governorates and whether they were displaced after the military attacks. Information about the exact locations of displacement was not available. Figure 1B shows that 32.4% of women reported weapon hits directly on their own house and 14.7% found war remnants inside the dwelling. Among women whose houses were directly hit (n=163), 63% (n=103) were inside the house during the military attack (Figure 1C). Thus a fifth (20.4%) of all women were in their own home  under the attack, and almost half (46.6%) of these found war remnants, generally shrapnel and shells, inside their houses. In addition, 11.9% of the women whose houses were not directly hit reported that weapons remnants reached the interior of their home from military attacks to neighbouring buildings, suggesting a wide radius of the spread of fragments from the blasts.

Figure 1

-C Localization of the mothers during attacks. (A) The residence of the 502 mothers. In black those residing in late 2015 in the same place as during the attacks in gray those displaced afterwards. (B) Left column, percentage of women in the 502 cross sectional convenience sample that reported that their own housing was hit directly and right column, those that found parts of ammunitions in their house. (C) Percentage of women that were inside their house under the attack .

In October 2015, 78 women of the 103 whose homes were hit while they were inside were contacted, and the damage to 49 homes was recorded (in photographs) in order to objectively document the military attacks. Figure 2A shows the number of the visited homes whose damages were photographed ; of these 63% still exhibited the damage from the attacks.  Ten houses were totally destroyed, 15 exhibited major damage and 24 displayed minor damage (Figure 2B and Figure 1 in the online supplement).

Figure 2 A-B

Reported attacks on the housing of the women in the cross sectional convenience sample (n=502). (A) Seventy eight of the 103 women who experienced a direct attack on their house while they were inside it were visited in October 2015. The damages that were still visible were documented by photography. (B) Damages observed  classified according to their impact on the structure.

Subgroups for personal exposure to military attacks were generated in order to investigate associations between the load of metals in women’s hair and their proximity to the military attacks. Figure 3 shows the distribution of the two proximally exposed and the unexposed subgroups. Of the 502 women in this study, 55.9% (n=282) belonged to the subgroup of women who were exposed to an attack and who remained in the same house, where weapon remnants were likely to be present, during the following months of their pregnancy. Subgroup 2, composed of women who were exposed to attacks and who had moved away from the bombed or shelled home, included 12.3% (n=61) of participants. Subgroups 1 and 2 compose what we named the “proximally exposed” women and were the 68.2% of the cross sectional convenience sample. Approximately one-third (31.7%, n=159) of the women belonged to subgroup 3, who reported not having been under or next door to military strikes and were therefore considered unexposed. Photographic evidence confirmed the damage to the houses of 25 women in subgroup 1 and of 24 women in subgroup 2.

 

Distribution of the cross sectional convenience sample according to different environmental exposures. (A) Division of the whole sample into subgroups was based on their reported proximal exposure or non-exposure. All women who reported that their home or the home next door was hit in an attack are in subgroup 1 (55.9% of the sample if they remained a resident in the same house until they delivered their baby, or in subgroup 2 (12.3% of the sample) if they were displaced after the attack. Subgroup 3 (31.7% of the sample reported no exposure to attacks. (B) Source of water for drinking and cooking. (C) Nearness to manufacturers and workshops. (D) Use of household and agriculture chemicals (shown in detail): users, or users of any of these chemicals or more than one.

” data-icon-position=”” data-hide-link-title=”0″>Figure 3 A-D

Figure 3 A-D

Distribution of the cross sectional convenience sample according to different environmental exposures. (A) Division of the whole sample into subgroups was based on their reported proximal exposure or non-exposure. All women who reported that their home or the home next door was hit in an attack are in subgroup 1 (55.9% of the sample if they remained a resident in the same house until they delivered their baby, or in subgroup 2 (12.3% of the sample) if they were displaced after the attack. Subgroup 3 (31.7% of the sample reported no exposure to attacks. (B) Source of water for drinking and cooking. (C) Nearness to manufacturers and workshops. (D) Use of household and agriculture chemicals (shown in detail): users, or users of any of these chemicals or more than one.

Metal load in mothers and newborns

Supplementary Table 1 (see online supplementary Table 1) shows the descriptive values of the metal load, as determined by ICP-MS, for the 23 metals investigated in the hair of mothers and newborns, both for the whole group and for subgroups of exposure to military attacks. In general, the mothers’ metal loads were higher than the newborns’. Spearman correlations of the metal load between the mothers and newborns for the whole sample (Table 1) showed significant (p<0.05) positive correlations for all metal loads, except for Cu and Sn, and a negative correlation for Ba. These data indicate trans-placental passage of toxicants Cr, Cs, Mo, Ni, Sr, Pb and V, and teratogens Hg, U and W.

Table 1

Correlation between mothers’ and newborns’ metal loads. Spearman analysis of the correlation between mothers’ and newborns’ metal loads. Values of p<0.05 are enhanced in yellow for the positive correlations for Mg, Cr, Cs, Hg Mo, Ni, Sr, U, V and W.  The correlation is negative for Ba. Values are reported in ppm

Table 2

Comparison of the metal load of the mothers in the cross sectional convenience sample and in subgroups 1, 2 and 3 with that of reference ranges of standards from areas not involved in the war. Comparison of the 95th percentile of metal load in the wholesample and in subgroups 1–3 with that of standards from areas not involved in wars. Confidence intervals are shown. Results with 95th percentiles significantly higher than the reference value are enhanced in light blue and in bold. Values are reported in ppm. Subgroups 1 and 2 are mothers ‘proximally exposed’ to attacks and subgroup 3 those that reported no exposure

The metal load comparison to a reference standard (RHS) from areas unaffected by war (Table 2) shows the comparison of the 95th percentile of the metal load for the mothers with that of RHS. In the whole sample and in each subgroup, the load of toxicants (Al, Fe, Ba, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sr and V), teratogens (Hg, U and W), carcinogens (As, Cd and Co), and of Mg and Zn was significantly higher in the hair of women in all groups of the Gazacross sectional convenience sample than in the reference group RHS. The load of Cs, Cu, Mo, SE, Sn and Ti did not significantly differ from what was found in the reference group, RHS.

Proximal exposure to military attacks and metal load

To examine whether there is an association between proximal exposure to military attacks and metal load, the median values of the subgroups were analysed by multiple quantile regression models. Results showed that both subgroups of proximally exposed women had significantly higher loads for the majority of metals than the unexposed subgroup. For the sake of clarity, Table 3 does not include the following metals which were detected at the same level in all samples as in RHS, and thus unrelated to differences in anthropogenic activities of any kind in the samples and the reference: Cs, Cu, Mo, Se, Sn and Ti. This analysis confirms that proximal exposure is associated with a higher load of contamination for most metals, with an exception for U, with the highest load in subgroup 3. Specifically, subgroups 1 and 2 together showed significantly higher metal loads than subgroup 3 for Al, Mg, Mn, Ba, As, Zn and V. Subgroups 1 and 2 showed significant differences between them: subgroup 1 was highest for Ba and V; subgroup 2 for Cr, Sr and W. Measured loads of Fe, Hg and Pb were higher in the three subgroups than in RHS but did not differ among the subgroups.

Comparison between the newborns groups for metal load showed that the newborns in subgroup 2 had a significantly higher load of contaminants for most metals, except for Hg and Zn. Yet, children in subgroup 3 had a significantly higher load for Al than newborns in subgroup 1.

Regarding exposures to environmental chemicals from civilian sources and potential confounders, the study showed high homogeneity in the women’s sample for exposure to most of the potential risk factors. For 84% of the women, it was common to use multiple sources for drinking water, and 87% of the women resided far from industrial plants (figure 3B and C). All of the women used a combination of the five food sources (UNRWA, Egyptian, Israeli and Turkish imports, and local). Less than 5% of women engaged in potentially risky habits, such as smoking, using hair dye or consuming medicines (not shown), and most of the women (90%) ate fish, a potential source of mercury, less than or equal to once per month. These putative risk factors do not seem relevant to the differences in the distribution of the metal load found between the women proximally exposed to military attacks and unexposed women.

Table 3a

Comparison between mothers of metal load between subgroups according to their ‘proximal exposure’. The metal load in mothers from different subgroups were compared with each other. Analysis was by multiple quantile regression on median values as linear function of the independent variable, ‘proximal exposure’. For ease in reading the data, the colour yellow indicates that the group in the first column of each panel has significantly higher load (p<0,05) than the one in the second column of the same panel. If vice versa, the line is enhanced in green colour. Panel A compares exposure subgroups 1 with 3; panel B compares exposure subgroups 1 with subgroups 2+3

Table 3b

Comparison between mothers of metal load between subgroups according to their ‘proximal exposure’. The metal load in mothers of different subgroups were compared with each other. Analysis was by multiple quantile regression on median values as linear function of the independent variable, ‘proximal exposure’. For ease in reading the data, the colour yellow indicates that the group in the column on the left in each panel has significantly higher load (p<0.05) than the one in the column on the right in the same panel. If vice versa, the line is enhanced in green colour. Panel C compares exposure subgroups 1+2 with 3; panel D compares exposure subgroups 1 with 2

Table 3c

Comparison between newborns of metal load between subgroups according to the mothers ‘proximal exposure’. The metal load in newborns of different subgroups were compared with each other. Analysis was by multiple quantile regression on median values as linear function of the independent variable, ‘proximal exposure’. For ease in reading the data, the colour yellow indicates that the group in the column on the left in each panel has significantly higher load (p<0.05) than the one in the column on the right in the same panel. If vice versa, the line is enhanced in green colour. Panel A compares exposure subgroups 1 with 3; panel B compares exposure subgroups 1 with 2+3

Table 3d

Comparison between newborns of metal load between subgroups according to the mothers ‘proximal exposure’. The metal load in newborns of different subgroups were compared with each other. Analysis was by multiple quantile regression on median values as linear function of the independent variable, ‘proximal exposure’. For ease in reading the data, the colour yellow indicates that the group in the column on the left in each panel has significantly higher load (p<0.05) than the one in the column on the right in the same panel. If vice versa, the line is enhanced in green colour. Panel C compares exposure subgroups 1+2 with 3; panel D compares exposure subgroups 1 with 2

Figure 3D shows that 76.3% (n=352) of women reported non-use of household and agricultural chemicals, whereas the 109 women classified as users reported using pesticides (n=82), herbicides (n=9) or other household chemicals (n=18). The chemicals were identified according to their function rather than their chemical composition and were studied only from the point of view of their potential contribution to the load of heavy metals in hair. Table 4 compares the median quantiles between user and non-user groups, showing no significant differences (p >0.3 for all analyses) among these subgroups in the load for all 23 metals. It is possible, then, to rule out the possibility that the use of these products contributed to the heavy metal contamination.

Table 4

Comparison of metal load between mothers according to their use of house–agricultural chemicals. Subgroups are not users-subgroup 1 (n=352) or users subgroup 2 (109), of any of the chemicals listed in figure 3D . Analysis was by multiple quantile regression on median values as linear function of the independent variable, ‘use of chemicals’. There was no significant difference for the load of all metal tested (p > 0,3) between the two groups

Discussion

Principal findings

The study is the first to document the number of civilian subjects in the population who were exposed in 2014 to military attacks in Gaza. The women in this cross sectional convenience sample experienced, in 32.4% of cases, a direct hit to their private dwellings and, in 63% of these cases, the attacks occurred while the women were inside their homes. The women’s recollections were supported by photographic documentation of the reported damage which verified its extent. Hits including those on neighbouring buildings (proximal exposure) were reported by almost 70% of the women.

The study examined the load of heavy metals in the hair of this cross sectional convenience sample  of women who were all pregnant during the war in Gaza in 2014. Hair samples were collected when the women delivered during the winter of 2014 and the spring of 2015. We found a positive correlation between a high load of toxicants (Ba, Al, V, Sr and Cr), a teratogen (W) and a carcinogen (As) in women’s hair and their proximity to military attacks in 2014.

We also found that there was a higher load in the entire cross sectional convenience sample of Gaza women in comparison with the hair samples from individuals in areas unaffected by war (RHS), regardless of their recent exposure to attacks. The high load was for heavy metals already detected as war remnants from previous attacks in 2009 (toxicants such as Al, Fe, Ba, Mn, Cr, Ni, Pb, Sr and V; teratogens such as U and W; and carcinogens such as As, Cd and Co).

There was, instead, no difference in the cross sectional convenience sample of Gaza women, regardless of their reported exposure to the attacks in 2014, in comparison with the metal load in the hair of adults of both sexes from the areas unaffected by war (RHS) for the concentration of microelements (Cu, Se and Mo) and a few other metals (Cs, Sn and Ti). Moreover, anthropogenic sources not arising from military attacks were excluded as confounders. These data confirm that the source of toxicant, teratogen and carcinogen contaminants was anthropogenic and associated with military attacks. We also showed that there was trans-placental passage for heavy metals from mothers to their newborns.

Limitations of the study

The lack of ‘never exposed to war’ controls within Gaza is a limitation of the study which cannot be overcome because there is no recent ‘time zero’ for anthropogenic, heavy metal weapons related contamination in Gaza since the first aerial attacks in 2004. Military attacks and restrictions on people’s movement have become a prominent structural factor in the past 10 years. All participants in this study were present and residentially stable during three military operations in 6 years (Cast lead in 2008–2009, Pillar of cinder in 2012 and Defensive edge in 2014) and were likely exposed during that time and continuously thereafter to heavy metal war remnants that were environmentally stable. Even so, as the results highlight, this study was able to identify the contribution of heavy metals from the military attacks in 2014, establishing a significantly higher metal load in the hair of the women proximally exposed to these attacks. The composite background of war related heavy metal contaminants in the entire cross sectional convenience sample reflects the local history of attacks and had no bearing on the conclusions when we compared women exposed to those not exposed in 2014.

A general limitation of this type of study is that the knowledge about the effects of in-body interactions resulting from intake of more than one heavy metal is limited. It is difficult to anticipate the extent of the long term risk for human health and, in particular, for future pregnancies or infant development. Although we reported preliminary findings about incidence of birth defects and prematurity outcomes for the whole cross sectional convenience sample, this study was not designed to identify potential correlations between negative phenotypes in the newborns and heavy metal load. The size of this sample, while adequate to identify the correlation between levels of heavy metals with environmental exposures, is not large enough to generate accurate values for the incidence of negative birth outcomes, which have relatively low frequency in the population, or to establish the association of a high load of heavy metals with those outcomes.

Strengths of the study

The use of a questionnaire specifically designed to include local issues and administered via face to face interviews with women by their midwives allowed for the evaluation of the potential impact on the load in heavy metals of women’s habits and exposures to sources of potential contamination other than military attacks. The questionnaire confirmed the rarity of other habits that could potentially lead to heavy metal exposure and to quantify as very low the geographical nearness to common anthropogenic sources of heavy metals in Gaza. The survey thus helped to verify and exclude a role for many potential confounders in the mothers’ heavy metal load. A further strength of the study was the inclusion, as an internal control, of the testing of the concentration of microelements and metals not associated with weaponry. These did not differ in concentrations from the RHS reference, for both the exposed and not exposed groups.

This is the first investigation involving a sample with a relatively large number of participants, enlisted without exclusions, and which also includes newborn babies, where the load of 23 heavy metals was measured in participants’ hair. The size of the cross sectional convenience sample allows subgroups to be used according to exposure to environmental factors, where even the subgroups were of suitable sizes for statistical analyses of the differences in median concentrations of contaminants. In addition, this is probably one of the first studies where women’s recollections, in this case regarding their exposure to military attacks, was verified objectively by photographic documentation.

Interpretation

Heavy metal contamination as a hidden legacy of military attacks in 2014

The contamination by heavy metals associated with the exposure to recent military attacks is a hidden factor that has, until now, never been fully documented, even though it constitutes a risk for the health of the population. The frequency of women’s exposure to the attacks in 2014 in a home setting was very high, about 70%, demonstrating the local’s saying that there was ‘no place to hide’ for the population of Gaza at that time. The women exposed to attacks had significantly higher loads of heavy metals than women not exposed. As only about a quarter of women were primipara, three-quarters of the women had children who were similarly exposed to the military attacks. The extent of the attacks on civilians in 2014 was thus likely to have produced heavy metal contamination in a wide sector of the population.

The fact that the highest contaminant loads was found in the women exposed to attacks were in those not exposed involved various toxicants, teratogens and carcinogens (Ba, Al, V, Sr, Cr, W and As) , could not be foreseen a priori and illustrates the complexity of the contamination. Yet, this finding is compatible with the reports by various sources25 27 about the use of many different types of ammunitions in this military operation.

We excluded some relevant sources as potential contributors to the heavy metal load detected in the cross sectional convenience sample. Chemicals used in agriculture and in the household did not impact on the metal loads when the entire sample was compared with references, or in proximally exposed women versus those not exposed. All other known factors considered are unlikely to be confounding. This is consistent with the known limited other anthropogenic sources of heavy metals in Gaza (like refineries and metal and chemical industries) and with the reduction in gasoline consumption for all uses, which was severely restricted due to the economic blockade in place since late 2012. Exposure to the 2014 attacks was the only factor that we could detect as contributing to the personal contamination of the participants by heavy metals.

Historical contamination by other war remnant heavy metals and their persistence in the environment

Besides the identification of a high load of heavy metals, which we specifically traced to exposure to the military attacks in 2014, we found that all the participants had levels significantly higher than controls from outside areas affected by war (RHS) of other war remnant heavy metals, such as U, Hg, Cd, Co, Fe, Ni, Pb, V, Mn, Cd and Co. Previous reports had shown their delivery in Gaza by weaponry; teratogens Hg and Cd and toxicants Pb and Fe were delivered by weapons in the 2008–2009 war.6 A high load of Hg was reported in newborns of mothers exposed at that time to bombing and to attacks with white phosphorus ammunitions.17–20 High loads of Al, Fe, Cd, Hg and U were detected in the hair of children tested 1 year after the 2008–2009 attacks (unpublished, Manduca).

The presence of concentrations higher than those found in the reference group (RHS) for heavy metals introduced previously by weaponry in Gaza in the entire cross sectional convenience sample of women that we have tested in 2015 confirms that these elements have persisted in the environment for years and suggests that the whole population may have been chronically intaking these metals.

Implications of chronic exposure to heavy metals and their in-body accumulation

Chronic exposure to heavy metals before the attacks in 2014 complicates the contribution of the attacks in 2014, and involves also diverse types of heavy metals. Yet, the heavy metals detected previously, as well those recently detected as deriving from the 2014 attacks, are known for their teratogenic, toxicant and carcinogenic properties. They are risk factors for non-communicable diseases and for reproductive health. On the one hand, the environmental stability of heavy metals makes it possible for their chronic intake from the environment by individuals. On the other hand, these metals, after intake into the body, are not excreted rapidly and accumulate in organs where they can continue to induce somatic epigenetic changes. If there is a threshold for their action , they can reach the critical concentrations capable of causing negative biological effects over time and can therefore affect health even at a time distant from that of intake, and pathological and phenotypic endpoints of their effects could  be delayed.

A variety of negative effects in time affecting the physiology of individuals, as well as an increase in non-communicable diseases, were reported in association with heavy metal exposure. Unfortunately, very little knowledge is available to date on the kinetics of the deposition of each heavy metal in the body and of its release from each specific organ of deposition, and these unanswered questions require further investigation. Among the various potential long term negative effects associated with heavy metal intake, we here only discuss  some of the concerns regarding reproductive health, for which some information in humans is available, as well as the role of teratogens of some of the heavy metal contaminants.

Exposure to attacks, heavy metal load and long term implications for reproductive health

We have mentioned the limits of this study in investigating the association of the metal load with phenotypes at birth. The present study is a first step in this direction. Nonetheless, the finding of an increase in birth defects and preterm births, compared with the incidence registered in 2011, is a concern.21 We can anticipate that our data on a widercross sectional convenience sample would register significant increases in birth defects and preterm births by the year 2016 (Manduca et al, submitted 2016). In other post-war settings, the association between exposure to attacks and negative reproductive outcomes was reported.18 In Gaza, by retrospective pedigree analysis,20 an increase in birth defects was reported starting in 2005, after the newest air delivered weapons were first used. Between 2006 and 2010, i.e. before and after the Cast lead operation in 2009, there was a significant increase in birth defect in infants,19 a rise which was continuing in 2011 (Manduca, unpublished). In Gaza was reported in 2011 association between the exposure to attacks and the contaminant load in newborn hair for specific teratogens, if the infant was born with a birth defect, or toxicants, if the infant was born preterm.22 There is thus some evidence of the potential negative impact on the outcomes of pregnancies due to the intake of heavy metals during wars.

There was also limited previous evidence that most of the heavy metals pass through the placental barrier, as we here documente, and accumulate in the hair during fetal life. However, the critical levels of heavy metals capable of negatively impacting on the human embryo and fetus are unknown, and little is known about the kinetics and modalities of trans-placental transfer of each individual heavy metal over time.

We have reported that newborn babies in this cross sectional convenience sample have lower heavy metal loads than mothers, but our present knowledge does not allow for a conclusion of whether this is reassuring for their future health as infants. Delayed effects were reported for in utero exposure to attacks among children as increased rates of chronic illnesses, developmental problems and growth impairments.7–10 12–16 Our data on newborn contamination are only an initial contribution to the needed research to investigate whether a high maternal load of weapons related metals and in utero exposure of the baby can predict physical, cognitive, emotional and psychological development in the infant. We are presently addressing this issue with a longitudinal assessment.

Other long term exposures to heavy metals that could harm the infant’s development may occur because of the transmission of heavy metals from the mother through breastfeeding.

A high load of some heavy metals can interfere with the mother’s future capability to bring a pregnancy to term, resulting in premature deliveries or negative effects on their next babies’ health.11 29 Mobilisation during pregnancy of metal previously accumulated in the mother’s body is likely to occur in pregnancies remote in time from their intake, and the return of stored heavy metals into the lymphatic and vascular circulation may have delayed effects on reproductive health.21 22 There is evidence that different heavy metals accumulate preferentially in different compartments of the body (eg, bone for lead, strontium and uranium; brain for mercury, cadmium and aluminium; kidney for cadmium, mercury, chrome, lead and plutonium), and that from these organs, the metals can be mobilised during subsequent pregnancies, via organ and tissue remodelling, and the development of the placenta, but the extent and details of these mobilisations are largely unknown.

Generalising the meaning of the study

The results of this study illustrate that in Gaza, a specific high load of heavy metals is associated for all the women in the cross sectional convenience sample with the exposure to military attacks in 2014, and widespread contamination for many heavy metals was associated with the use of weaponry in previous attacks. These evidences support the possibility of immediate and long term risks for health posed by weapons associated heavy metals and war remnants. They suggest that the risks posed by the war remnants are diffuse, may not be limited to reproductive health and may also affect the frequency of pathologies such as cancers, male sterility, immunity and endocrine disorders, thus interesting all sexes and ages, as the insurgence of these pathologies can be influenced by heavy metal exposure and is noticeable that they are reported by medical sources, on the rise in Gaza.8–11

The contamination documented in the cross sectional convenience sample by potential effectors of non-communicable diseases suggests new investigative lines in studying their ethology.

The relevance of the local context needs to be underlined as the it  was the first determinant that made our research possible. There are factors in the Gaza Strip that aided conducting human studies which would hardly be possible elsewhere: good medical structures, collaborative communities with stable composition and residences, and stagnating or restricted industrial production (although imposed by the siege and negative for the well-being of the people), independent documentation from international observers of timing of attacks and of kind of weapons used , and consulting help for environmental issues. The collaborative context also allowed the development of a questionnaire suitable for further surveillance of health.

To fully understand the implications for health of these findings we need future studies involving a variety of professional aptitudes. Research is needed on the fate of heavy metals in the human organism, particularly in relation to the release from the mother’s organ during remodelling in pregnancies. Additionally, researchers should explore the mechanistic aspects of the molecular action of each heavy metal, and longitudinal studies can identify and verify the endpoints of diseases over time. Currently, knowledge of all of these matters is limited. Given that the weaponry used in many of the current military operations in other countries is often manufactured by the same firms as the weaponry used in Gaza, our observations may be relevant in designing studies in other settings.

Conclusions

The long term effects on health due to contamination by remnants of war containing heavy metals needs consideration in association with other long term effects of war on populations, including the trauma of war and war related economic and structural damage.

Surveillance at birth, bio-monitoring and the study of outcomes of maternal and newborn health must be maintained as stable programmes, as they provide the most sensitive first sentinels for studies of the sequelae of anthropogenic contamination and can provide alerts about increases in damaging health conditions. They also provide solid information intrinsic to prospective data collection. Surveillance at birth is relatively easy to implement, and its outcome informs the general risks for the population and helps tailor public health interventions and preventive procedures.

Retrospective and longitudinal investigations should be undertaken to investigate the effects of heavy metal contamination on non-communicable diseases

Further research on the long term health damage caused by exposure to heavy metals is needed. Additionally, plans for family counselling, prevention and remediation should be developed. These efforts require the support of the scientific community and the involvement of an array of professionals from different disciplines. Our studies provide a background for others to be implemented in other settings where, in similar fashion as in Gaza, general health may be threatened by hidden remnants of war in the present and for the next generations.

In summary, in Gaza, contamination by heavy metals that persist in the environment and their continuing accumulation in individuals are ongoing risk factors for a variety of health outcomes in the aftermath of war.

Supplementary Material

Supplementary material 1

Supplementary Material

Supplementary Table 1

Acknowledgments

Fabrizio Minichilli, researcher, and Fabrizio Bianchi, Research Director Unit of Environmental Epidemiology, Institute of Clinical Physiology, Pisa, Italy, provided significant support in the statistical analysis.

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View Abstract

Footnotes

  • Contributors Contributorship statement. PM developed the questionnaire used to collect the data, directed the analytical work and elaboration of the data with statisticians, wrote the manuscript, and prepared the figures and reference list. SYD directed the organised field work in three hospitals, and the follow-up objective assessment of damages, and contributed to the definition of the work and review of the manuscript. NMAA directed the organised field work in one hospital and contributed to the definition of the work and review of the manuscript. SRQ partecipated in the planning of the study and review of the manuscript. R-LP launched the idea of the study and participated in the planning of the work and first draft and review of the manuscript. All contributed authors had access to and revised the data.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Yes.

  • Ethics approval The Palestinian Health Research Council and the Helsinki C’ommittee for Ethical Approval approved the study, and the Research Board of the Islamic University of Gaza, Palestinine, reviewed and accepted the research tools and procedures. The women provided written informed consent for their own and their newborns’ participation.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Extra data can be accessed via the Dryad data repository at http://datadryad.org/with the doi:10.5061/dryad.kr846.

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Palestinian Girl Becomes Reporter After Israeli Military Kills Her Friend

While most 10-year-olds go to school, play with their friends and enjoy their childhood, Janna Jihad, from Palestine is busy becoming the youngest amateur reporter in Palestine. Sputnik spoke in an exclusive interview with Janna.

A resident of Nabi Saleh, a Palestinian village north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, Janna has been a witness to the tragedies of war from a very young age.

She started covering the local events and unveiling Israeli violations in Palestine after her friend was killed by the IDF.

“I began three years ago, when I was seven years old. I participated in rallies near our house in Ramallah, precisely in the rally of ‘Nabi Salih’ (The prophet of ancient Arabia) in the village of Nabi Salih.”

“It was a rally against the establishment of the Israeli settlement in the area. Our house is the first house in the entrance of the village of Nabi Salih; the IDF always reach there. I have loved journalism since I was a kid; I began shooting the rallies and demonstrations with my mother’s cell-phone and commenting on what I film.”

Janna explained that by filming it she is showing how the IDF attack participants during demonstrations.

“With the help of my mother I managed to publish these videos on social networks, the thing was met with significant resonance and this pushed me to continue even further,” Janna explained.

Recalling what was the turning point in her life that pushed her further to pursue journalism; Janna said that it was the killing of her friend and her maternal uncle at the hands of the IDF.

“They were shot dead just in front of my eyes when I was 7 years old. This is it. It was then when I gave up fear and shyness and decided to document all violations made by the IDF wherever I went; so I make videos on my mother’s cell-phone and make comments either in Arabic or English.”

She further spoke about how her aim is to shed light on the Israeli violations that the international media doesn’t cover and let the whole world know about their practices on Palestinian lands.

Talking about why she uses English in her reports, Janna said that she was born in the US and moved back to Palestine when she was three months old. She studied in American School in Ramallah and learned English with the help of her parents.

“I found out that reports made in English reach a wider public on social networks rather than those in Arabic. Then, I’m addressing the West; for, Palestinians and Arabs know what is happening in Palestine, and about the scope of the Israeli violations. Thus, I’m regularly working on developing my English to convey my message to the world.”

Talking about her future ambitions, Janna said that she wants to be a journalist when she grows up and work for an international news agency.

“This is because media doesn’t tell the truth about the Israeli violations on the Palestinian territories. I want to correct this and show the true picture of the events. I also wish to become a football player to represent Palestine in all international forums (and football matches),” Janna concluded.

Sorgente: Palestinian Girl Becomes Reporter After Israeli Military Kills Her Friend

Dima e Ahmad, due bambini-simbolo della ferocia israeliana

13087578_10208259843827345_5018372213138361794_nDue bambini-simbolo della mostruosità israeliana: Dima al-Wawi, la più piccola prigioniera palestinese, tenuta per oltre due mesi in carcere e torturata; Ahmad al-Dawabshe, unico sopravvissuto al rogo della sua famiglia.

thanks to: Agenzia stampa Infopal

HRW: la polizia israeliana commette abusi sui bambini detenuti

2015_07_mena_opt_israel_arrest_kidsHuman Right Watch. Palestina: la polizia israeliana commette abusi sui bambini detenuti. Con il raggiungimento del picco di arresti, le preoccupazioni aumentano.

Gerusalemme

Le forze di sicurezza israeliane stanno commettendo abusi sui bambini palestinesi detenuti in Cisgiordania. Il numero di bambini arrestati dalle forze israeliane è più che raddoppiato dall’ottobre del 2015.

Colloqui effettuati coi bambini che sono stati detenuti, riprese video e relazioni degli avvocati denunciano che le forze di sicurezza israeliane stanno utilizzando la forza, senza che ve ne sia la reale necessità, durante gli arresti e la detenzione dei bambini, in alcuni casi picchiandoli e trattenendoli in condizioni pericolose ed offensive della dignità.

“I bambini palestinesi vengono trattati con metodi che terrorizzerebbero e traumatizzerebbero anche un adulto”, ha affermato Sari Bashi, direttore nazionale di Israele e Palestina. “Urla, minacce e percosse usate dalla polizia non sono un buon metodo per trattare con un bambino o per ottenere da loro informazioni dettagliate”.

Avvocati e organizzazioni per i diritti umani hanno riferito a Human Rights Watch che le forze di sicurezza israeliane interrogano di solito i bambini senza la presenza di almeno un genitore, violando le leggi sia internazionali che nazionali di Israele che prevedono tutele speciali per i detenuti bambini. Fra queste tutele, vi è la richiesta che l’arresto o la detenzione di un bambino sia solo l’ultima possibilità edoccorre prendere tutte le precauzioni affinché i bambini non siano costretti a dichiararsi colpevoli. La Convenzione per i Diritti del Bambino richiede che le forze di sicurezza agiscano in modo da tutelare al meglio gli interessi del bambino, una considerazione fondamentale in tutti gli aspetti del sistema giudiziario minorile.

Nel luglio 2015, Human Rights Watch ha documentato sei casi di abusi su bambini che le forze di sicurezza israeliane avevano trattenuto a Gerusalemme Est ed in altre zone della Cisgiordania occupata. In risposta, la polizia e l’esercito israeliani hanno negato che gli abusi abbiano avuto luogo ed hanno risposto a Human Rights Watch che le loro forze avevano effettuato arresti e detenzioni in accordo con la legge.

Da allora, Human Rights Watch ha documentato tre nuovi casi di abuso fisico su bambini in custodia e metodi per gli interrogatori che violano queste norme. Gli avvocati penalisti della difesa affermano con documenti che tali abusi sono endemici. L’incapacità di rispettare le leggi internazionali e le protezioni previste dalla legge israeliana, riguardo ai bambini detenuti, è particolarmente preoccupante visto l’aumento vertiginoso del numero di bambini arrestati durante le recenti violenze.

Da ottobre, le proteste in Cisgiordania e a Gaza sono aumentate, cosi’ come la quantità di proiettili veri utilizzati dalle forze israeliane contro i dimostranti. Si sono registrati anche accoltellamenti e presunti accoltellamenti da parte di Palestinesi contro civili israeliani e forze di sicurezza, sia in Cisgiordania che in Israele. Alla data del 29 febbraio 2016, sono rimasti uccisi 172 Palestinesi e 24 Israeliani, secondo l’Ufficio delle Nazioni Unite per il Coordinamento degli Affari Umanitari. Dei 21 Palestinesi sospettati di aver commesso attacchi ed uccisi nel 2016, nove erano bambini, secondo l’ONU.

Human Rights Watch ha intervistato tre Palestinesi, di 14, 15 e 16 anni, due dei quali sono stati arrestati a Gerusalemme Est ed il terzo in Cisgiordania nella città di Hebron, ad ottobre e novembre 2015. Ognuno di loro ha riferito di esser stato sottoposto ad uso della forza eccessivo durante l’arresto o durante la detenzione, o durante entrambi. Human Rights Watch ha anche intervistato alcuni testimoni presenti durante questi tre arresti ed ha visionato il video di una telecamera di sicurezza nel quale si vedono agenti di polizia che sembra utilizzino eccessiva forza durante l’arresto di un quindicenne. Human Rights Watch ha anche intervistato avvocati penalisti della difesa che lavorano a Gerusalemme Est, ha presentato una lista di domande al ministro israeliano per la polizia per mezzo di un membro della Knesset (parlamento), ed ha presentato alcune domande anche all’ufficio dei portavoce dell’esercito israeliano e della polizia.

In due di questi tre casi, la polizia ha interrogato il bambino senza la presenza di nessun genitore o di un altro tutore; nel terzo caso, un genitore ha potuto essere presente solo quando l’interrogatorio era già iniziato. Tutti e tre i bambini hanno riferito che gli agenti di polizia li hanno colpiti e calciati dopo che si trovavano in custodia. Hanno anche raccontato di essere stati obbligati per ore a stare fuori al freddo nelle prime ore del mattino e durante la notte, con le mani legate alle sedie, in strutture della polizia.

Il video di una telecamera di sorveglianza di un negozio documenta l’arresto di uno dei bambini, Fayez B., 15 anni, e mostra almeno sette agenti di polizia in tenuta antisommossa che partecipano all’arresto, schiaffeggiando e trascinando il ragazzo che pesa 53 kg., utilizzando anche una manovra di soffocamento. “E’ stata una nottata terribile”, ha riferito Fayez a Human Rights Watch. Il padre del ragazzo è arrivato durante l’arresto e ha detto che un agente della polizia lo ha colpito al volto quando ha chiesto cosa stesse accadendo.

Secondo l’organizzazione palestinese per i diritti dei bambini DCI-Palestine e l’organizzazione israeliana per i diritti umani B’Tselem, che si affida alle informazioni dell’Autorità carcerarie israeliane, il numero di bambini palestinesi arrestati in Cisgiordania a partire da ottobre, quando vi è stato un aumento delle violenze, è aumentato del 150 percento rispetto ad un anno fa. Oltre alle aggressioni di bambini palestinesi contro civili e forze di sicurezza israeliane, anche i casi di bambini che lanciano pietre contro veicoli israeliani sono aumentati.

In risposta alle denunce di abusi durante l’arresto di uno dei ragazzi, Ahmed A., il distretto di Hebron delle forze di polizia israeliane ha inviato una lettera per iscritto in risposta alle domande sottoposte da Human Rights Watch. La lettera afferma che l’interrogatorio di Ahmed è stato effettuato secondo la legge, ma non affronta direttamente le accuse secondo le quali gli agenti di polizia hanno abusato fisicamente di lui. Il ministro della polizia deve ancora rispondere ad un’inchiesta parlamentare presentata a febbraio 2016, la quale chiede informazioni generali sul trattamento dei bambini palestinesi detenuti. Il capo dell’ufficio di polizia ha respinto una richiesta di incontro presentata da Human Rights Watch che sarebbe servita a dare risposte alle preoccupazioni avanzate.

Human Rights Watch non ha chiesto una risposta per i casi degli altri due bambini, al fine di proteggere loro e le loro famiglie. Vengono tenuti nascosti i cognomi dei bambini per proteggere la loro privacy.

“Il numero crescente di attacchi compiuti da bambini palestinesi è preoccupante”, ha dichiarato Bashi. “Ma le forze di sicurezza dovrebbero sottostare alla legge e trattare i bambini detenuti con l’umanità e la dignità che tutti i bambini meritano”.

Fayez B., 15 anni

Fayez è stato arrestato all’esterno di un negozio dove lavorava occasionalmente, a Gerusalemme Est, nel pomeriggio del 7 ottobre. Ha riferito a Human Rights Watch che gli agenti della polizia israeliana lo hanno avvicinato chiedendogli se avesse un coltello e che uno di loro gli ha messo una mano nella tasca mentre l’altro lo spintonava. Fayez ha dichiarato di aver spinto a sua volta l’agente e di essere entrato nel negozio dove lavorava per dare il suo telefono cellulare al proprietario, preannunciandogli che sarebbe stato arrestato.

Gli agenti della polizia lo hanno quindi seguito, ha detto, cominciando a colpirlo fino a farlo cadere a terra. Mentre era al suolo, ha continuato, gli agenti gli davano calci tra le gambe e gli sbattevano la testa per terra, poi lo hanno trascinato mettendolo in piedi e schiaffeggiandolo per poi ammanettarlo. Il proprietario del negozio, Mohammed al-Shwaiki, che era presente, ha confermato il racconto ed ha aggiunto che un agente di polizia ha colpito anche lui, al capo e ad un ginocchio.

Un video del servizio di sorveglianza del negozio, che al-Shwaiki ha consegnato ai media poco dopo l’arresto, mostra Fayez che cammina all’interno del negozio ed un agente della polizia, vestito in tenuta antisommossa, che lo afferra. Il ragazzo si divincola e cammina dietro al bancone del negozio, quindi si vede l’agente che lo spinge nuovamente a terra. Lui e l’agente restano fuori dalla vista della telecamera per 13 secondi. Dopodiché si può vedere l’agente che lo trascina rialzandolo da terra, lo schiaffeggia, e lo porta verso l’entrata del negozio. Almeno altri sei agenti di polizia, tutti con indosso caschi e giubbotti antiproiettile, si possono vedere mentre partecipano all’arresto. Anche se Fayez appare sopraffatto, uno degli agenti sembra colpire il ragazzo mentre sta in piedi, ed un altro sembra fargli una breve manovra di soffocamento. Fayez pesa 53 chili ed è alto un metro e 65.

Fayez ha poi raccontato di essere stato ammanettato e di aver camminato verso il quartiere di Abu Tor, nel quale vivono sia Palestinesi che ebrei israeliani. Ha detto che gli agenti di polizia hanno continuato a colpirlo e a dargli calci. Dopo essere entrati nel quartiere passando attraverso una porta, Fayez racconta di essere stato gettato a terra dai poliziotti. Sei o sette di loro lo hanno colpito alle gambe, alla schiena e alla testa, mentre alcuni passanti urlavano contro di lui in ebraico e imprecavano maledizioni in arabo contro sua madre e sua sorella.

Fayez ha quindi raccontato che la polizia lo ha caricato su una grande jeep assieme ad 11 agenti e si sono diretti verso la stazione di polizia di Oz. All’inizio si trovava seduto nei posti dietro, ma in seguito gli agenti lo hanno fatto mettere sul pavimento. Quindi un certo numero di poliziotti gli ha dato calci, ed uno lo ha colpito alla testa con un pugno. Un altro agente ha versato acqua sulla schiena di Fayez.

Il padre di Fayez, Fawaz B., è arrivato al negozio attorno alle 4, mentre suo figlio veniva portato via. Ha detto che quando ha chiesto agli agenti di polizia cosa stesse accadendo, uno di loro lo ha afferrato alla camicia dandogli un pugno al volto. Ha quindi detto di aver spintonato l’agente, e poi altri agenti lo hanno spinto via minacciandolo di sparargli se non se ne fosse andato.

Fawaz ha detto di aver poi seguito i poliziotti presso il quartiere di Abu Tor. Ha notato circa 25 persone presenti – uomini, donne, bambini – riuniti attorno ai poliziotti che gridavano mentre gli agenti colpivano suo figlio. Fawaz ha detto di aver urlato contro di loro per fermarli e poi li ha visti portare suo figlio all’interno della jeep. Ha poi guidato verso la stazione di Oz, ha detto, dove gli agenti gli avevano detto che avrebbero portato suo figlio, ma quando è arrivato i funzionari della polizia gli hanno detto che suo figlio si trovava in un’altra struttura di polizia, nella strada Salah al-Din. Fawaz ha raccontato che quando è arrivato li’, i funzionari gli hanno detto di recarsi in una terza struttura, conosciuta come la struttura russa. Qui gli è stato riferito che suo figlio si trovava invece presso la stazione di polizia di Oz.

“Hanno agito in questo modo per non permettermi di assistere al primo interrogatorio”, ha detto Fawaz.

Fawaz ha detto di essere ritornato nella stazione di Oz e di aver chiesto nuovamente di essere presente all’interrogatorio di suo figlio. Ha detto che lo hanno fatto aspettare ancora per un’ora, fino alle 10 di sera, quando i poliziotti gli hanno permesso di entrare nella stanza dove si stava svolgendo l’interrogatorio di suo figlio. Fawaz ha raccontato che suo figlio aveva le manette ai polsi e alle caviglie e piangeva mentre gli investigatori gli urlavano contro, accusandolo di aver tentato di accoltellare le forze di sicurezza.

“Ho notato segni sul suo volto”, ha detto Fawaz. “Era blu, ed il suo collo aveva i segni di polpastrelli… era rosso e blu. Gli bestemmiavano contro usando un brutto linguaggio. Non riuscivo a sopportarlo. Ho detto loro di non essere indecenti con lui e loro hanno urlato anche contro di me”. Fawaz ha detto che l’interrogatorio è terminato verso le 11.

Fayez ha detto che dopo il suo interrogatorio è stato portato nel cortile della stazione di polizia e messo su una sedia all’aria gelida, sempre con le manette alle mani e ai piedi, fino circa alle 2 di notte, quando è stato portato con la jeep nella struttura russa, che ha una parte destinata ai giovani detenuti. Gli agenti di polizia gli hanno detto che questa parte era già piena e lo hanno riportato verso la jeep sulla quale ha trascorso tutta la notte. Gli agenti di polizia gli hanno dato una bottiglia d’acqua ma niente cibo, ha detto. Ha inoltre dichiarato che sulla jeep, quando si addormentava, gli agenti gli versavano acqua addosso per svegliarlo.

“E’ stata una notte terribile”, ha aggiunto.

E’ stato rilasciato il giorno seguente senza nessuna accusa, dopo che era stato pubblicato on-line il video del suo arresto. Il proprietario del negozio, al-Shwaiki, ha detto che la polizia ha interrogato anche lui, dicendogli che Fayez sarebbe stato rilasciato se lui e gli altri si fossero accordati per non presentare nessuna denuncia.

Ahmed A., 16 anni

I soldati hanno arrestato Ahmed il 27 novembre alle 7 di sera circa, nel giardino di un amico, Issa Amer, vicino alla sua casa a Hebron. Ha detto che i soldati lo hanno bendato e ammanettato poi lo hanno portato presso una stazione di polizia nella colonia Kiryat Arba che si trova nelle vicinanze, dove è stato messo a sedere all’esterno per terra fino intorno alle 12.30 di notte. Ha chiesto di poter far arrivare suo padre, ma gli agenti di polizia gli hanno detto che ai loro genitori non sarebbe stato permesso di assistere all’interrogatorio. Gli è stato concesso di parlare col suo avvocato al telefono prima dell’interrogatorio che è iniziato dopo mezzanotte. Ha riferito che gli investigatori lo accusavano di possedere un coltello, accusa da lui respinta, e lo hanno poi trasferito in una struttura militare nella strada Shuhada.

Una volta arrivati, ha detto, sei o sette soldati lo hanno obbligato a rimanere a terra e hanno iniziato a colpirlo e a dargli calci.

“Sono stato colpito alla schiena e alle gambe, con calci e pugni alla testa”, ha raccontato Ahmed a Human Rights Watch. “Non so per quanto tempo è durato, ma è stato molto doloroso, ed il tempo trascorreva lentamente”.

Ha detto di aver passato la notte su una sedia nel cortile, nell’aria gelida della notte, e gli è stato dato soltanto un bicchiere d’acqua ed una fetta di formaggio giallo e duro. E’ stato trasferito presso una struttura di detenzione il giorno seguente ed è stato rilasciato sei giorni più tardi senza nessuna accusa, dopo che il test del DNA non ha dato alcuna prova del suo legame con un coltello che era stato ritrovato.

Il Distretto delle forze di polizia israeliane in Cisgiordania ha dichiarato a Human Rights Watch nella sua lettera che le forze di sicurezza hanno arrestato Ahmed perché corrispondeva alla descrizione di un sospetto che presumibilmente era in possesso di un coltello e che stava fuggendo dai militari. La lettera affermava che lo ha interrogato un giovane investigatore appositamente addestrato per questi casi, e che i poliziotti hanno notificato ai genitori il suo arresto. La polizia ha dichiarato che il ragazzo non aveva chiesto di avere i suoi genitori presenti durante l’interrogatorio e che comunque non avrebbero avuto il permesso di assistere perché lui era un sospettato di un crimine contro la “sicurezza”.

La lettera non affronta il tema delle accuse secondo le quali i poliziotti hanno picchiato e dato calci ad Ahmed ma rimandano Human Rights Watch ad una procedura per poter presentare reclami contro i “carcerieri” che presumibilmente abbiano commesso abusi, sebbene Ahmed abbia affermato di essere stato picchiato durante un fermo di polizia, prima di essere trasferito presso il centro di detenzione. La lettera non risponde neanche ad una domanda sul fatto che uno dei genitori del ragazzo abbia firmato un documento che confermi che essi avevano ricevuto la notifica del suo arresto, come afferma la Youth Law.

Suheib I., 14 anni

Un terzo ragazzo, Suheib I., 14 anni, ha riferito a Human Rights Watch che la polizia lo ha arrestato alle 4 del mattino in casa sua, nel quartiere Thowri a Gerusalemme Est, il 28 di ottobre del 2015. Sua madre ha confermato l’ora e la data. Gli agenti lo hanno sistemato sul pavimento di un automezzo della polizia. Suheib, che è alto 1.61 e pesa 50 kg., ha detto che i poliziotti lo hanno colpito alla testa e gli hanno bestemmiato contro, mentre si recavano presso la stazione di polizia di Oz. Ha detto che è stato fatto sedere su una sedia, con le mani e i piedi legati, all’esterno di un veicolo nella struttura della polizia, dalle 5 di mattina circa fino all’ora di pranzo. Le persone che lo interrogavano lo hanno quindi portato dentro ed hanno iniziato a fargli domande circa il presunto coinvolgimento nel lancio di bottiglie contro le forze di sicurezza.

I suoi genitori non erano presenti. Suheib ha detto che gli agenti gli hanno bestemmiato contro e lo hanno minacciato di cancellare la residenza dei suoi genitori a Gerusalemme Est. Ha raccontato che i poliziotti gli hanno detto di firmare documenti scritti in ebraico, cosa che ha fatto, nonostante egli non riesca a leggere questa lingua. Ha chiesto agli investigatori circa il contenuto dei documenti e gli è stato risposto che una di esse dichiarava che il ragazzo non era stato picchiato. E’ stato trattenuto in vari centri di detenzione fino al 22 di novembre, quando, in base alle trascrizioni di Human Rights Watch esaminate dal tribunale, è stato posto agli arresti domiciliari dopo che un giudice del tribunale minorile della magistratura di Gerusalemme ha raccolto una testimonianza anche da un addetto ai servizi sociali del comune secondo il quale il ragazzo in detenzione “stava soffrendo”.

I documenti del tribunale affermano che il sergente di polizia Fadi Madah ha riferito al tribunale minorile di Gerusalemme che un giudice ha emesso un mandato d’arresto per Suheib il 26 di ottobre. Non è stata data alcuna giustificazione sul motivo per il quale gli agenti di polizia abbiano eseguito il mandato alle 4 di mattina, due giorni dopo che era stato emesso. Madah ha anche confermato nella sua testimonianza che un comandante della polizia ha autorizzato che venisse negato al ragazzo il diritto di poter avere i suoi genitori presenti durante l’interrogatorio, dicendo che il crimine del quale era accusato – lancio di bottiglia contro automobili condotte da ebrei – aveva giustificato tale decisione.

Requisiti legali per gli interrogatori

L’Art. 14 della Convenzione Internazionale sui Diritti Civili e Politici, che Israele ha ratificato nel 1991, richiede procedure giudiziarie che tengano in considerazione l’età dei bambini imputati. La Convenzione per i Diritti del Bambino, anche questa ratificata da Israele nel 1991, fornisce i particolari di questi requisiti e indirizza gli stati per assicurare che i bambini non siano “obbligati… a dichiararsi colpevoli”. Il comitato incaricato per l’interpretazione della convenzione ha dichiarato che ciò comprende il diritto di poter richiedere la presenza di un genitore durante gli interrogatori e di evitare procedure investigative che, data l’età dei bambini ed il loro sviluppo, potrebbero portare od obbligare il bambino a ritenersi colpevole.

Il comitato dice che il termine “obbligato” potrebbe essere interpretato in una varietà di casi e non essere limitato alla forza fisica o ad altre palesi violazioni dei diritti umani. L’età del bambino, il suo sviluppo, la durata dell’interrogatorio, la mancanza di comprensione da parte sua, la paura di conseguenze ignote o di possibilità suggerite di detenzione potrebbero portarlo ad una confessione che non è veritiera. Il comitato ha inoltre chiesto ad Israele che apra una inchiesta indipendente sui presunti casi di tortura e maltrattamenti sui bambini palestinesi, alla luce dei rapporti che le forze di sicurezza “[li] sottopongono sistematicamente a violenze fisiche e verbali”.

L’UNICEF ha relazionato che in 168 delle 208 dichiarazioni giurate fornite dai bambini palestinesi nel 2013 e nel 2014, i bambini hanno dichiarato di non essere stati informati dei loro diritti ad avere un avvocato o di restare in silenzio durante gli interrogatori. I bambini hanno riferito di essere stati “sottoposti a violenze fisiche” in 171 casi.

Sia la Youth Law applicata in Israele che le ordinanze militari applicate in Cisgiordania prevedono che la polizia notifichi ai genitori l’arresto del loro figlio e permettono al bambino di consultarsi con un avvocato prima dell’interrogatorio. La Youth Law riconosce ai bambini di poter avere la presenza di un genitore durante i loro interrogatori, eccetto nei casi di presunti “reati contro la sicurezza”. La Youth Law richiede anche che i funzionari svolgano gli interrogatori di giorno, di condurre i procedimenti in una lingua che il bambino comprende, e di tenere in considerazione il benessere del bambino nel decidere se l’arresto sia assolutamente necessario. Nonostante la Youth Law non si applichi formalmente in Cisgiordania, ad eccezione di Gerusalemme Est, l’esercito di Israele ha detto a Human Rights Watch che essa attua le disposizioni della Youth Law, compreso il diritto ad avere un genitore presente durante l’interrogatorio, per l’applicazione della legge in Cisgiordania.

Cosi’ come il numero di arresti di bambini è cresciuto a seguito dell’escalation di violenza dei mesi scorsi, allo stesso modo è cresciuto il numero di casi nei quali le norme internazionali che proteggono i bambini sono state violate, come hanno riferito organizzazioni per i diritti umani, sia israeliane che palestinesi. Mohammed Mahmoud, un avvocato dell’organizzazione per i prigionieri palestinesi Adameer, ha difeso centinaia di bambini negli ultimi mesi, la maggior parte dei quali sono stati arrestati per aver lanciato pietre contro i coloni e le forze di sicurezza. Ha dichiarato a Human Rights Watch:

Il problema principale nel sistema legale israeliano nel trattamento dei minori è quello che un agente di polizia esperto può garantire a chi svolge gli interrogatori una ordinanza che permette loro di vietare la presenzadei genitori di un bambino durante il suo interrogatorio. Questa ordinanza, per quel che vediamo, viene utilizzata contro i bambini palestinesi soltanto per i casi politici, e dà agli investigatori la possibilità di inveire, urlare, minacciare i bambini spingendoli a confessare crimini che non hanno commesso soltanto per paura.

Anche se negare il diritto alla presenza di un genitore durante l’interrogatorio dovrebbe essere una misura eccezionale, tale pratica minaccia di diventare la regola per i bambini palestinesi, per i quali azioni come il lancio di pietre vengono definite crimini contro la sicurezza. Secondo uno studio del 2015 effettuato dal Military Court Watch, una organizzazione non governativa, soltanto il 3 percento dei bambini palestinesi arrestati in Cisgiordania ha riferito che i loro genitori erano presenti durante l’interrogatorio compiuto dalle forze di sicurezza.

Nel novembre del 2015, la Knesset israeliana ha approvato una legge che autorizza pene detentive più lunghe per i bambini condannati per lancio di pietre e che permette al governo di sospendere i pagamenti degli aiuti sociali alle famiglie mentre i loro figli scontano la pena

Traduzione di Aisha Tiziana Bravi

thanks to: Infopal

‘Gaza’s new generation of children only knows stress, wars and aggression’

If you keep depriving children from Gaza of everything, eventually some of them will join armed conflict and Israel will have no one to blame but themselves, Belal Dabour, a Palestinian doctor from Gaza, told RT.

Sorgente: ‘Gaza’s new generation of children only knows stress, wars and aggression’ — RT Op-Edge

Defence for Children International: Israele uccide intenzionalmente i minorenni palestinesi

Palestinian-youth-arrested-by-Israeli-soldiers-in-al-aqsa-mosque04Memo. Defence for Children International ha accusato l’esercito israeliano di uccidere intenzionalmente i bambini palestinesi nei Territori occupati palestinesi, secondo quanto ha riportato QudsNet.

L’esercito di occupazione ha ucciso oltre 180 Palestinesi dall’inizio dell’Intifada di Gerusalemme, a ottobre del 2015, compresi 49 minorenni. 17 ragazze sono tra i minorenni uccisi.

L’organizzazione ha dichiarato: “Le ripetute uccisioni e le sparatorie contro i minorenni, da parte dell’esercito israeliano, e l’impedimento al personale medico di prestare soccorso sono una forma di omicidio extra-giudiziario”.

“La mancata punizione” incoraggia i soldati israeliani a uccidere i minorenni palestinesi, in quanto nessuna reale indagine è aperta in casi in cui sono i Palestinesi ad essere uccisi.

Un dirigente del gruppo ha aggiunto che l’escalation della politica israeliana dà all’esercito luce verde per uccidere i bambini palestinesi. In passato, ai soldati israeliani era permesso di aprire il fuoco solo in situazioni pericolose, ma ora possono farlo in qualunque momento abbiano paura.

Sorgente: Defence for Children International: Israele uccide intenzionalmente i minorenni palestinesi | InfopalInfopal

I Bambini del Campo

Sheren Khalel and Abed Al Qaisi and Sheren Khalel and Abed Al Qaisi on January 22, 2016

 

Giovedì 21 Gennaio,

i bambini dai campi profughi di Aida e Beit Jibrin a Betlemme hanno parlato a Mondoweiss sulla loro vita nei campi. Volevamo capire esattamente quanto i bambini avessero capito dell’occupazione militare attorno a loro, e quanto normale ritenessero le proprie vite. Con il permesso dei loro genitori, abbiamo chiesto a cinque bambini per strada ciò che pensavano dei due campi. Tutte le risposte sono state spontanee ed improvvisate e, come si è scoperto, i ragazzi hanno capito e hanno vissuto sulla propria pelle, molte cose.

Molti tra i bambini hanno parlato di gas lacrimogeni, soldati, e di aver paura ad uscire. Tutti i bambini hanno visto familiari uccisi, arrestati, feriti e arrestati dalle forze israeliane – questa è la vita in molti campi profughi della Cisgiordania occupata. Eppure, i bambini hanno grandi speranze, raccontando a Mondoweiss che vogliono diventare medici, avvocati e ingegneri una volta cresciuti.

Fonte: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/01/video-children-of-the-camp

Traduzione: Federico Ard.

thanks to: Invicta Palestina

Coloni e soldati israeliani aggrediscono i bambini di Hebron

Ma’an e Imemc. Un padre palestinese che vive nella Città Vecchia di Hebron ha dichiarato che la figlia di sette anni è stata ferita mentre veniva inseguita da un noto estremista israeliano, Baruch Marzel, lunedì.

Un colono israeliano, protetto dalle forze di occupazione, ha attaccato Dana al-Tamimi, di 7 anni, colpendola più volte alla testa e al volto, rompendole i denti e causandole diversi ematomi e tagli sulla testa.
I soldati israeliani hanno impedito ai paramedici di giungere sulla scena. Tuttavia, il padre di Dana è riuscito a portarla via e metterla su un’ambulanza per le cure mediche.
Raed al-Tamimi ha affermato di aver dovuto portare sua figlia all’Ospedale Governativo di Hebron “dopo che lei è caduta a terra mentre veniva inseguita da Marzel vicino alla moschea Ibrahimi”.
Al-Tamini ha dichiarato a Ma’an che le forze israeliane presenti nell’area non hanno fermato Marzel durante l’inseguimento di sua figlia e hanno aggredito suo figlio di 10 anni, Hutasem, oltre ad avere aggredito due fratelli, Nabil e Farhat Nader al-Rajabi, di 14 e 10 anni.
Al-Tamimi è uno delle migliaia di palestinesi che vivono nel centro di Hebron controllato da Israele – la più grande città nella Cisgiordania occupata – tra le centinaia di coloni israeliani che vivono illegalmente nell’area.
B’Tselem, gruppo israeliano per i diritti umani, documenta con frequenza gli attacchi dei coloni israeliani contro i residenti sotto la protezione delle forze israeliane.
Marzel è conosciuto tra i palestinesi che vivono a Hebron: essi hanno paura di questo seguace del rabbino radicale Meir Kahana e membro del movimento Kach – messo fuori legge da Israele nel 1994 attraverso le leggi antiterrorismo.
La Città Vecchia di Hebron è stata dichiarata una zona militare chiusa a novembre, bloccando l’entrata nell’area eccetto per i residenti palestinesi registrati e per i coloni israeliani.
Traduzione di F.H.L.

Sorgente: Coloni e soldati israeliani aggrediscono i bambini di Hebron | InfopalInfopal

Israele depriva 23.000 orfani del sostegno mensile

Memo. Il vice-leader del Movimento Islamico nei Territori palestinesi del 1948 (Israele), Shaikh Kamal Al-Khatib, ha affermato lunedì che 23 mila orfani sono stati privati del loro sostegno mensile a causa del divieto di ogni attività imposta al gruppo da Israele.

Sorgente: Israele depriva 23.000 orfani del sostegno mensile | InfopalInfopal

44 Palestinians Killed This Month, Including 11 Children

Sunday October 18, 2015

Three Palestinians were killed in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, another youth was killed in Jerusalem, and a fifth was killed at Qalandia checkpoint by Israeli live gunfire on Saturday. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, these five casualties bring the total number of Palestinians killed in October to 44.

 

  Clashes in Bethlehem on October 9th  - Photo by WAFA
Clashes in Bethlehem on October 9th – Photo by WAFA

Moreover, the ministry reported that 1300 Palestinians have been injured since October 1st during ongoing clashes in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem, including 550 that were hit by Israeli live gunfire.

In addition, since the beginning of October, more than 650 Palestinians have been abducted and imprisoned by the Israeli army, according to political prisoners rights groups. An earlier report by the Ministry of Health showed that since the start of October, 5000 residents were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation fired by Israeli troops targeting Palestinian protesters.

In Hebron Saturday morning, a right-wing Israeli paramilitary settler shot and killed a Palestinian teenager Saturday morning on Shuhada Street in the center of Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank.

Video footage captures the immediate aftermath of the shooting, in which an Israeli paramilitary settler dressed in white holds two guns and directs the Israeli soldiers toward the body of the boy he killed. The 18-year old victim was identified as Fadel al-Qawasmi, 18. Paramedics with the Palestinian Red Crescent were denied access to the dying teen, and Israeli troops took the body away without allowing any medical personnel or family members near the body.

Just few hours later Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian young woman in Hebron old city, until the time of this report name was not released to media.

Also on Saturday morning, Israeli soldiers shot and killed, on Saturday, a Palestinian teen close to the Armon Hanetziv illegal colony, built on Palestinian lands in Jabal al-Mokabber neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem. The slain Palestinian has been identified as Mo’taz Ahmad Hajes ‘Oweisat, 16 years of age, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) has reported.

Between the week of Saturday October 10, to Friday October 16, at least 15 Palestinians were killed three in Gaza and 12 in the West Bank by Israeli troops gunfire. Meanwhile a Palestinian political prisoner died while being held by the Israeli army. Moreover a Palestinian farmer was killed after being attacked by Israeli settlers and soldiers as he was harvesting his olive trees.

The names of those killed by the army in October:

West Bank and Jerusalem:

  1. Mohannad Halabi, 19, al-Biereh – Ramallah.
  2. Fadi Alloun, 19, Jerusalem.
  3. Amjad Hatem al-Jundi, 17, Hebron.
  4. Thaer Abu Ghazala, 19, Jerusalem.
  5. Abdul-Rahma Obeidallah, 11, Bethlehem.
  6. Hotheifa Suleiman, 18, Tulkarem.
  7. Wisam Jamal, 20, Jerusalem.
  8. Mohammad al-Ja’bari, 19, Hebron.
  9. Ahmad Jamal Salah, 20, Jerusalem.
  10. Ishaq Badran, 19, Jerusalem.
  11. Mohammad Said Ali, 19, Jerusalem.
  12. Ibrahim Ahmad Mustafa Awad, 28, Hebron.
  13. Ahmad Abedullah Sharakka, 13, Al Jalazoun Refugee camp-Ramallah.
  14. Mostafa Al Khateeb, 18, Sur-Baher – Jerusalem.
  15. Hassan Khalid Manassra, 15, Jerusalem.
  16. Mohamed Nathmie Shamassnah, 22, Kutneh-Jerusalem.
  17. Baha’ Elian,22, Jabal Al Mokaber-Jerusalem.
  18. Mutaz Ibrahim Zawahra, 27, Bethlehem. Hit with a live bullet in the chest during a demonstration.
  19. Ala’ Abu Jammal, 33, Jerusalem.
  20. Bassem Bassam Sidr, 17, Hebron.
  21. Ahmad Abu Sh’aban, 23, Jerusalem.
  22. Ibraheem Dar-Yousif, 46, Al Janyia village Ramallah( Killed while harvesting olives)
  23. Fadi Al-Darbi , 30, Jenin – died in Israeli detention camp.
  24. Eyad Khalil Al Awawdah, Hebron.
  25. Ihab Hannani, 19, Nablus.
  26. Fadel al-Qawasmi, 18, Hebron.
  27. Mo’taz Ahmad ‘Oweisat, 16, Jerusalem.
  28. Bayan Abdul-Wahab al-‘Oseyli, 16, Hebron
  29. Tariq Ziad an-Natsha, 22, Hebron
  30. Omar Mohammad al-Faqeeh, 22, from Qotna village, killed 10/17 in Qalandia protest

Gaza Strip:

  1. Shadi Hussam Doula, 20.
  2. Ahmad Abdul-Rahman al-Harbawi, 20.
  3. Abed al-Wahidi, 20.
  4. Mohammad Hisham al-Roqab, 15.
  5. Adnan Mousa Abu ‘Oleyyan, 22.
  6. Ziad Nabil Sharaf, 20.
  7. Jihad al-‘Obeid, 22.
  8. Marwan Hisham Barbakh, 13.
  9. Khalil Omar Othman, 15.
  10. Nour Rasmie Hassan, 30.
  11. Rahaf Yihiya Hassan, two years old.  -killed along with her mother in an Israeli airstrike
  12. Yihya Farahat, 23.
  13. Shawqie Jaber Obed, 37.
  14. Moahmed Ehmeed, Age unknown.

Israeli casualties during the same time period:

10/13 – Yeshayahu Kirshavski, 60, bus shooting in East Jerusalem
10/13 – Haviv Haim, 78, bus shooting in East Jerusalem

thanks to: Imemc

WhatsApp Messages Show Israeli Soldiers Knew They Were About To Kill A Child

IOF - 620

In March 2014, Israeli soldiers were ordered to use live ammunition to ambush three Palestinian teens in the southern region of the occupied West Bank, according to an investigation by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.
Yousef al-Shawamreh, 14, was fatally shot in the back and hip as he and two friends attempted to cross Israel’s wall inside the West Bank from their village of Deir al-Asal al-Fawqa on the morning of 19 March.
According to B’Tselem’s investigation, al-Shawamreh was shot and killed “in broad daylight, although he posed no danger.” The rights group obtained a partial copy of the investigation file and a video of the shooting from the Israeli military. The video, above, shows the soldiers methodically carrying out an ambush that resulted in the killing of a child.
Messages exchanged between the soldiers throughout the incident on the messaging service WhatsApp ”showed that at least some of the soldiers believed the three Palestinians to be minors,” B’Tselem states.

WhatsApp Messages Show Israeli Soldiers Knew They Were About To Kill A Child.

Lo sfruttamento del lavoro minorile palestinese in vetrina all’Expo 2015

Nelle colonie israeliane si schiavizza il lavoro minorile palestinese. Invece di stigmatizzare Israele per le sue politiche di sfruttamento della terra, dell’acqua, di donne, uomini e bambini palestinesi, l’Italia invece offrirà una vetrina alle aziende israeliane a Expo2015.

di Stephanie Westbrook

Una doppia illegalità. Nelle colonie israeliane costruite in Cisgiordania, occupata in violazione del diritto internazionale, si sfrutta anche il lavoro minorile palestinese. È quanto è emerso dal nuovo rapporto di Human Rights Watch, la nota organizzazione internazionale impegnata per i diritti umani.

Il quindicenne Saleh, che ha lasciato la scuola alla seconda media, porta un serbatoio di 15 litri di pesticidi sulle spalle. Spruzza le piante per mezz’ora alla volta, poi riempie di nuovo il serbatoio. Ripete questo ciclo 15 volte durante la sua giornata lavorativa.

La maggior parte dei bambini intervistati afferma di lavorare con i pesticidi. Non sanno molto delle sostanze chimiche che trattano, ma degli effetti sì. Soffrono di “giramenti di testa, nausea, irritazioni agli occhi ed eruzioni cutanee”. I ragazzi che lavorano nei vigneti dove si usa il pesticida Alzodef, vietato in Europa dal 2008, si riconoscono dalle desquamazioni dell’epidermide. I bambini palestinesi lavorano 6-7 giorni alla settimana, per 8 ore al giorno, anche nelle serre a temperature che si avvicinano ai 50 gradi. Portano carichi pesanti e usano macchine pericolose. Secondo uno studio del 2014 sugli infortuni tra i minori palestinesi che lavorano, il 79% aveva subito un infortunio sul lavoro nei precedenti 12 mesi. E tutto questo per una paga di meno della metà di quella minima garantita dalla legge israeliana e senza assicurazione sanitaria e altri benefit, assicurando così maggiori guadagni alle aziende agricole delle colonie.

Il rapporto di HRW si incentra sulla Valle del Giordano, noto come il granaio della Palestina, dove le grandi estensioni di piantagioni e coltivazioni delle colonie contrastano con i campi aridi dei palestinesi, evidenziando l’iniqua distribuzione delle risorse idriche. I palestinesi che ci vivono, scesi da circa 300.000 nel 1967 agli 80.000 di oggi, hanno accesso solo al 6% dell’area. Il restante 94% è riservato ai 9.500 coloni e alle loro piantagioni, oppure chiuso in zone militari.L’87% della Valle del Giordano si trova in un’Area C che, secondo gli accordi di Oslo, è sotto il controllo totale di Israele. I palestinesi che ci vivono devono ottenere permessi dalle autorità militari israeliane per qualsiasi costruzione che siano case, stalle, strade, pozzi o cisterne, ma anche per coltivare la terra o pascolare il bestiame. I permessi approvati sono una rarità. Guadagnarsi da vivere dall’agricoltura, senza terra e senza acqua e con una serie di check-point tra i campi e i mercati, diventa impossibile. I minori sono costretti a lavorare per aiutare le famiglie e non hanno altra scelta che l’agricoltura delle colonie. In alcuni casi, i bambini finiscono addirittura per lavorare le terre che sono state confiscate alle proprie famiglie. Altri hanno raccontato di genitori malati, morti o in prigione – sono 6.000 i prigionieri politici palestinesi attualmente nelle carceri israeliane. Ai bambini tocca, quindi, provvedere per la famiglia e lasciano la scuola per farlo.

Queste condizioni sono in violazione delle convenzioni sui diritti dell’infanzia nonché della stessa legge israeliana, che si estende ai lavoratori nelle colonie e secondo la quale è vietato ai minori l’uso di sostanze chimiche, di lavorare con carichi pesanti e a temperature alte. Sarebbe anche obbligatorio per i datori di lavoro fornire assicurazioni sanitarie e remunerare i periodi di malattia. Nessuna di queste leggi invece viene applicata per i bambini palestinesi. Le ispezioni sulle condizioni di lavoro nelle colonie sono superficiali se non addirittura inesistenti. Per la forza lavoro, le aziende agricole delle colonie inoltre si servono di intermediari palestinesi, spesso ex lavoratori, anche minori, nelle colonie così da evitare una responsabilità diretta. Una bambina che ha lavorato nella colonia di Kalia dall’età di 13 a 15 anni racconta di essersi nascosta sotto i sedili del furgone dell’intermediario per non farsi vedere dai soldati o dai guardiani, anche se spesso bastava dire che aveva dimenticato i documenti a casa per passare.

Infatti, viene tollerato di aggirare problema dei permessi necessari per consentire ai palestinesi di entrare nelle colonie, perché i campi e le serre si trovano comunque al di fuori dai cancelli. I lavoratori palestinesi, bambini e adulti, non hanno contratti né buste paga. Non hanno nessuna prova di aver mai lavorato per la colonia, nessun diritto lavorativo, nessun ricorso possibile. Chi si azzarda a cercare di far valere i propri diritti finisce spesso nella lista nera con l’intera famiglia senza possibilità così di trovare un altro lavoro.

Visti gli abusi sui minori palestinesi, e le altre violazioni del diritto internazionale da parte di Israele, Human Rights Watch raccomanda di interrompere “i rapporti di affari con le colonie, compresa l’importazione dei prodotti dell’agricoltura delle colonie”. Anche tutte le principali organizzazioni agricole palestinesi, insieme al movimento per il boicottaggio di Israele, invitano a porre fine ad “ogni commercio con le aziende agricole israeliane che sono complici con il sistema di occupazione, colonizzazione e apartheid di Israele” . L’Europa è il principale mercato per i prodotti agricoli israeliani.

Nel rapporto di HRW è finito anche il ruolo della Mekorot, società idrica nazionale di Israele. La Mekorot sottrae l’acqua illegalmente dalle falde idriche sottostanti la Valle del Giordano e rifornisce il 70% del fabbisogno di acqua delle colonie della valle. L’Acea SpA ha firmato un accordo di cooperazione con la Mekorot nel dicembre del 2013.

Il Comitato No all’Accordo Acea Mekorot ha denunciato ripetutamente al Comune di Roma, azionista di maggioranza, e ad Acea le complicità di Mekorot con il regime israeliano di occupazione. Ora si aggiunge il ruolo della Mekorot nello sfruttamento del lavoro minorile palestinese. Nel comunicato del Comitato, si chiede: cosa altro ci vuole affinché si “prendano misure per assicurare che l’accordo non abbia un seguito in modo da evitare complicità con le violazioni dei diritti?” La principale società idrica dell’Olanda, la Vitens, ha già interrotto un analogo accordo con la Mekorot a causa delle violazioni del diritto internazionale.

Invece di stigmatizzare Israele per le sue politiche di sfruttamento della terra, dell’acqua, di donne, uomini e bambini palestinesi, l’Italia invece offrirà una vetrina a Israele a Expo2015. Al padiglione di Israele, che si trova in una posizione strategica, accanto a quello italiano e all’incrocio delle due principali assi del sito, si propaganderanno le menzogne delle meraviglie dell’agricoltura israeliana che ha fatto “fiorire il deserto”, in linea con l’ipocrisia del mega evento che pretende di parlare di agricoltura sostenibile mentre porta le sponsorship di McDonald’s e Coca-cola. Le verità scomode non verranno raccontate dentro i padiglioni, ma fuori sì.

Milano, infatti, si sta preparando per sei mesi di contestazione contro la speculazione e lo sfruttamento rappresentati da Expo2015 a partire dalla cinque giorni di “laboratorio sociale di resistenze e alternative”  dal 29 aprile al 3 maggio. E in tutto il mondo crescono le campagne di boicottaggio dello stato di Israele, per isolarlo a livello internazionale, come è stato fatto con il Sudafrica dell’apartheid, fino a quando non rispetterà i diritti dei palestinesi.

thanks to: lacittafutura.it

Reports of Israeli Sexual Abuse Committed against Detained Palestinian Children

JERUSALEM, November 20, 2014 (WAFA) – At least 600 Palestinian children were arrested in Jerusalem since last June, of whom nearly 40% were exposed to sexual abuse during arrest or investigation by the Israeli authorities, Thursday revealed a report by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC).

 

The PCC said the daily arrest campaigns constitute a collective punishment against the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem.

 

Mufeed al-Haj, an attorney with the PCC, said that other violations were reported during the apprehension of children, including, but without limitation, night and predawn raids on family homes, physical abuse, and sexual abuse.

 

Al-Haj added that under applicable laws, minors undergoing investigation should be accompanied by their parents, yet the Israeli authorities paid no respect to these laws in many cases.

Forces often ignore laws and arrest Palestinians without having arrest warrants.

 

Since last June, Israel arrested hundreds of Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, most during predawn and night raids on their family houses.

M.N./T.R.

thanks to: Wafa

1000s of Gaza children need psychological care: UN

File photo shows a Palestinian child who was injured in an Israeli attack on her home in Gaza

File photo shows a Palestinian child who was injured in an Israeli attack on her home in Gaza
Sat Aug 16, 2014 2:18 PM
Related Interviews:

Senior UN officials say the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip has left thousands of children traumatized across the besieged Palestinian territory.

Latest figures show 400,000 Palestinian children are in immediate need of psychological help due to the “tragic impact” of the Israeli assaults.

The UN has employed hundred of psychotherapists to examine the effects of this situation on the children.

“The first time a child goes through a traumatic event like a war it is just deeply terrifying” for them, said Chris Gunness, the spokesman of the UN  Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which has 200 psychotherapists working in up to 90 clinics in Gaza.

Medics say some children peppered with burns and shrapnel wounds sustained in Israeli shelling that hit their homes in north Gaza, stare at them blankly, emotionless.

Meanwhile, an Israeli court has recently banned the broadcast of Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem that listed the names of Palestinian children killed during Israel’s month-long offensive in the Gaza Strip.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court rejected B’Tselem’s appeal to overturn a decision by the Israel Broadcast Authority to ban a broadcast produced by the NGO, saying it is of political nature.

The broadcast listed the names of children killed in the war in the besieged enclave.

Nearly 2000 Palestinians, including 470 children, have lost their lives and more than 10,200 have been wounded since the Israeli military unleashed fatal assaults on the Gaza Strip more than a month ago.

Human rights groups say Israeli forces are systematically killing Palestinian children and youths. The rights groups say there is a growing trend among Israeli soldiers to hit Palestinian children and youths.

JR/AB

thanks to: Presstv

Arab Knesset Member to Obama: Are Gaza Children Allowed to Dream like Your Daughters, Malia and Sasha?

NAZARETH, August 6, 2014 (WAFA) – Ahmad al-Tibi, an Arab member of the Israeli Parliament, Knesset, sent on Wednesday a letter to the U.S. President Barack Obama listing the names and ages of the Palestinian fatalities in Gaza, including children.

 

Al-Tibi underscored the U.S. double standards in its policy towards the barbaric aggression on Gaza, including the arms supplies and financial support to Israel.

 

“I am writing this to express our resentment over your position, and the position of the U.S. administration, towards the Israeli aggression on Gaza.”

 

Al-Tibi said 1881 Palestinians have been killed, of whom 80% are civilians, including 315 children, since the beginning of the Israeli aerial, ground and naval aggression.

 

 “All Palestinian children killed in Gaza had names, faces, and families, as well as hopes and dreams just like your daughters, Malia and Sasha.”

 

“Your echoing of the Israeli propaganda that the Palestinians hide behind their children is not acceptable. A number of human rights organizations confirmed that the Palestinians do not use their children as human shields. It is quite the exact opposite; the Israeli army always uses Palestinians as human shields during its military operations,” he added.

 

He stressed that the Palestinian people love their children and cry over their death just like any other parents.”

 

He said that the death of children should torture anyone with a conscience, addressing Obama and asking him, “don’t the children of Gaza deserve life, liberty and empathy on your part for their suffering?”

 

Tibi also accused the Obama administration “of hypocrisy, after they called the alleged kidnapping of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin ‘barbaric’, while the IDF was bombing hospitals, schools, homes, mosques, UN facilities, ambulances, and even the only power source in Gaza,” reported Jerusalem online.

M.N./T.R.

thanks to: Wafa

PALESTINA. La “normalità” degli abusi sui minori

Sotto le bombe a Gaza, target dell’esercito in Cisgiordania: numerosi rapporti analizzano le gravi violazioni israeliane del diritto internazionale, dall’assedio della Striscia al trattamento delle centinaia di bambini arrestati in Cisgiordania.

(Foto: Getty Images)

di Francesca La Bella

Roma, 21 luglio 2014, Nena News – Dall’inizio dell’operazione “Barriera Protettiva” contro la Striscia di Gaza, ogni giorno abbiamo avuto notizia della morte di uno o più minori. In molti casi si tratta di bambini molto piccoli, colpiti dai bombardamenti o, da tre giorni a questa parte, dal fuoco delle truppe di terra israeliane.

L’uccisione di civili ed, in particolar modo, di minorenni, anziani e invalidi, costituisce una grave violazione del diritto internazionale in generale e delle convenzioni di Ginevra in materia di diritto umanitario in situazioni belliche in particolare. Per far fronte a questa terribile accusa i portavoce israeliani hanno affermato che sono state messe in atto tutte le misure necessarie a minimizzare le vittime civili attraverso la comunicazione preventiva degli attacchi e che la responsabilità di queste morti deve essere esclusivamente imputata ad Hamas perché utilizzerebbe i civili come scudi umani. Nel caso dei quattro bambini colpiti sulla spiaggia da un missile sparato dal mare, il governo israeliano ha persino porto le sue ufficiali scuse perché le vittime civili sono state collaterali rispetto all’eliminazione di un obiettivo “legittimo”, un militante di Hamas. Israele afferma, dunque, di aver fatto tutto ciò che è necessario per cercare di proteggere i soggetti deboli al meglio in un contesto difficile come quello attuale.

La realtà è, però, ben diversa. La Striscia di Gaza è uno dei territori con la maggiore densità demografica al mondo, chiusa su tutti i lati, con valichi di confine dai quali è possibile uscire solo con il beneplacito di Israele, o dell’Egitto per quanto riguarda il valico di Rafah.  I minori e le loro famiglie hanno possibilità di fuga quasi nulle, soprattutto in frangenti come quello attuale e, anche se riuscissero ad allontanarsi, mancherebbe loro un posto dove andare e l’assicurazione della tutela dei loro diritti fondamentali. In tale senso si era già espresso il Comitato internazionale sui diritti del fanciullo che, l’anno passato, aveva sottolineato come un attacco in un territorio come Gaza violava sia il principio di proporzionalità sia quello di distinzione (civili-combattenti) date le condizioni fisico-demografiche dell’area. Nei rapporti di organizzazioni come Save the Children viene, inoltre, evidenziato quanto vivere nella Striscia, anche normalmente, comporti un disagio fisico e psicologico, soprattutto dei minori, che tende ad aggravarsi nelle fasi di conflitto: mancanza d’acqua e medicine; senso di insicurezza dovuto alla persistente possibilità di attacco; limitazione della libertà di movimento/emigrazione.

La condizione dei minori palestinesi è, infatti, molto difficile anche durante i periodi di non belligeranza. E’ di fine giugno la pubblicazione di un rapporto dell’Euro-mid Observer For Human Rights, organizzazione non governativa con base a Ginevra, nel quale si evidenziavano le numerose violazioni dei diritti dei minori palestinesi perpetrate da Israele. Attraverso testimonianze dirette, analisi dell’UNICEF e dichiarazioni di operatori internazionali, il rapporto presenta la condizione dei minori palestinesi, principalmente nella Cisgiordania, e cerca di descrivere il trattamento al quale può essere soggetto un minore al momento dell’arresto da parte israeliana.

Sottolineando prioritariamente che, tra inizio 2010 e metà 2014, i minori presi in custodia dalle forze armate israeliane sono stati circa 2500, di cui 400 tra i 12 e i 15 anni, il rapporto descrive in maniera analitica i diversi passaggi della presa in custodia, dall’arresto all’interrogatorio, alla detenzione. I reati generalmente contestati riguardano il lancio di sassi e molotov contro militari israeliani, la partecipazione a manifestazioni pacifiche non autorizzate, la vicinanza a gruppi considerati illegali o anche solo la conoscenza di persone appartenenti a suddetti gruppi. La contestazione delle accuse non è, però, un passaggio fondamentale al momento dell’arresto. Secondo molte testimonianze, infatti, i minori vengono portati via dalle loro case in piena notte, ammanettati e a volte bendati, senza che ai genitori venga comunicato il motivo dell’arresto o consentito di accompagnarli. Davanti alla richiesta di maggiori informazioni sulla natura del reato o sulla localizzazione del minore le risposte rimangono vaghe e, spesso, solo dopo la confessione del soggetto sotto custodia, alle famiglie viene concesso di visitare il minore e di conoscere le accuse.

A questo si aggiunga che le modalità di interrogatorio portano quasi sempre ad una piena confessione. In primo luogo mancano avvocati difensori e traduttori e i minori, in molti casi, vengono interrogati in ebraico e obbligati a firmare documenti nella stessa lingua. Se questo non bastasse, alle violazioni procedurali, spesso, si aggiunge vera e propria coercizione fisica. Nel rapporto di monitoraggio dell’UNICEF sulla condizione dei minori sotto detenzione militare israeliana di ottobre 2013, ad esempio, venivano elencati una serie di casi di minori che, sotto custodia, sono stati sottoposti a violenza fisica, anche con bastoni, e molti organismi internazionali, come il Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-Palestine), sottolineano come la perquisizione corporale, l’intimidazione, l’umiliazione e l’isolamento siano pratiche normalmente utilizzate benché vietate dalla Convenzione internazionale dei diritti del Fanciullo siglata da Israele nel 1991.

La mancata tutela dei minori palestinesi non si estrinseca, però, solo nel momento della presa in custodia. Proprio il comitato internazionale delegato a monitorare la messa in atto della Convenzione sopracitata, nel suo ultimo rapporto, datato giugno 2013, esprime grande preoccupazione per i trattamenti riservati ai minori palestinesi dalle forze armate israeliane. In questo senso condanna l’utilizzo dei minori come scudi umani, protezione di veicoli militari dal lancio di pietre e avanguardie in edifici potenzialmente pericolosi, ed informatori (14 casi segnalati tra gennaio 2010 e marzo 2013) e sottolinea come i responsabili di tali atti in passato non siano stati processati per tali violazioni.

Mancata garanzia dei diritti minimi dei minori, violenze sistematiche nei loro confronti e uno stato di latente conflitto fanno si che, nonostante in questi 11 giorni di attacco i minori che hanno perso la vita siano già più di 100 e che tra le decine di arresti effettuati in Cisgiordania moltissimi siano minori, questa non debba essere considerata una situazione eccezionale. Per i giovani palestinesi quello che succede in questi giorni è molto simile alla normalità.

thanks to: Nena News

La strage degli innocenti: bombe israeliane colpiscono gruppo di bambini

8/7/2014

Gaza-InfoPal. Erode continua a colpire gli innocenti nel silenzio di media e governanti di tutto il mondo.

In una carneficina che non sembra avere fine, ma che, anzi, fa supporre un’escalation di violenza ancora maggiore, con 40 mila riservisti israeliani richiamati in servizio per una possibile invasione di terra contro la più che martoriata Striscia di Gaza, missili dell’aviazione israeliana hanno preso di mira un gruppo di bambini che si trovava in strada Ahmad Yassine, nel quartiere di Sheikh Radwan, a Gaza. Uno di loro, un ragazzino di 14 anni, Ahmad Nael Mahdi, è morto sul colpo.

Il corpo dilaniato è stato portato all’ospedale al-Shifa, insieme agli altri feriti.

(Fonte: Quds Press. Foto di Mohammad Abdelaziz che ritrae un bimbo ferito durante i bombardamenti di queste ore)

thanks to: Infopal

Israel’s Mistreatment of Palestinian Children

The Saga Continues

October 31, 2013

by DR. CESAR CHELALA

A UNICEF report issued last March, “Children in Israeli Military Detention,” was sharply critical of Israel’s treatment of detained Palestinian children and youths. According to that report, 700 Palestinian children aged 12-17, most of them boys, are arrested and harshly interrogated by the Israeli military, police and security agents every year in the occupied West Bank.

Now, a new UNICEF progress report states that although some progress has been achieved “violations are ongoing” seven months after the original report was released. The progress report states that there were 19 sample cases of abuse of youths between 12 and 17 in the occupied West Bank in the second quarter of 2013.

The information on mistreatment of Palestinian children and youths is the result of several years of information gathering by UN agencies related to grave violations committed against Palestinian children in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. This information is regularly reported to the United Nations Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.

Last June, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child confirmed the abuses against Palestinian children, including torture, solitary confinement and threats of death and sexual assault in prisons. “These crimes are perpetrated from the time of arrest, during transfer and interrogation, to obtain a confession but also on an arbitrary basis as testified by several Israeli soldiers,” stated the committee.

The reported abuses of Palestinian children also confirm what the organization Breaking the Silence, constituted by Israeli soldiers who served in the IDF and work to expose human rights violations had stated in its report called “Children and Youth, Soldiers Testimonies 2005-2011.” In one of the testimonies, a soldier from the Nahal Brigade with rank of first sergeant, stated, “On your first arrest mission you’re sure it’s a big deal, and it is actually bullshit. You enter the Abu Sneina (Hebron) neighborhood and pick up three children. After that whole briefing, you’re there with your bulletproof vest and helmet and stuck with that ridiculous mission of separating women and children. It’s all taken so seriously and then what you end up is a bunch of kids, you blindfold and shackle them and drive them to the police station at Givat Ha’vot. That’s it, it goes on for months and you eventually stop thinking there are any terrorists out there, you stop believing there’s an enemy, it’s always some children and adolescents or some doctor we took out. You never know their names, you never talk with them, they always cry, shit in their pants.”

According to Article 37 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, State Parties shall ensure that “No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,”…and “Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.” These provisions have been repeatedly violated by the Israeli authorities.

As UNICEF states, “In addition to Israel’s obligations under international law, the guiding principles relating to the prohibition against torture in Israel are to be found in a 1999 decision of the Supreme Court, which is also legally binding on the Israeli military courts. The Court concluded that a reasonable interrogation is necessarily one free of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and that this prohibition is absolute.”

Ill-treatment of Palestinian minors begins with the arrest itself, which is carried out usually in the middle of the night by heavily armed soldiers, and continues through prosecution and sentencing. Most minors are arrested for throwing stones; however, they suffer physical violence and threats, many are coerced into confessing for acts they didn’t commit and, in addition, many times they don’t have access to a lawyer or family during questioning. According to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, 7,000 kids aged from 12 to 17 years, but sometimes as young as nine, have been arrested, interrogated and detained since 2002.

Israeli government abuses against Palestinian children are not limited to the West Bank. In the past, UNICEF has also reported that one baby in three risks death because of medical shortages in Gaza. Israel’s government had also prohibited the distribution of special food to about 20,000 Gazan children under age five resulting in anemia, stunted growth and general weakness as a result of malnutrition.

Israel’s government has stated his intention to continue working with UNICEF to address the issue of mistreatment of Palestinian children. However, treatment of children and adolescents under detention as it is carried out even now contravenes Israel’s democratic principles and contributes to the perpetuation of the Middle East conflict and to the search for a just and lasting peace in the region.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international public health consultant and a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award.

thanks to: counterpunch

No to the torture of Palestinian children!

No to the torture of Palestinian children!                                                                                                                                 

No complicity with their torturers!

Every day the Israeli Occupation Forces arrest Palestinian children in their homes, mostly in the middle of the night and take them away handcuffed and blindfolded to interrogation centres where they are subjected to physical and psychological tortures: bound hand and foot in uncomfortable positions, deprived of sleep, at times hit, threatened with sexual assault and reprisals against their families. They are generally asked to admit that they have thrown stones at tanks or bulldozers demolishing their houses, to denounce other children, to become ‘informers’ and to sign documents written in Hebrew, a language which they do not understand.

Every day the Israeli Occupation Forces arrest Palestinian children in their homes, mostly in the middle of the night and take them away handcuffed and blindfolded to interrogation centres where they are subjected to physical and psychological tortures: bound hand and foot in uncomfortable positions, deprived of sleep, at times hit, threatened with sexual assault and reprisals against their families. They are generally asked to admit that they have thrown stones at tanks or bulldozers demolishing their houses, to denounce other children, to become ‘informers’ and to sign documents written in Hebrew, a language which they do not understand.

These acts have been reported by many Palestinian, Israeli and international organisations defending human rights and children’s rights, such as UNICEF, Defence Children International, B’Tselem, Save the Children, ACAT and the British Foreign Office, in a report entitled ‘Children in Military Detention’.

They point out that such Palestinian children have no access to their parents or lawyers for weeks, they are sometimes taken to Israeli military courts and jailed at the age of 12, in Israeli prisons, totally illegally. (The Geneva Conventions forbid any occupier to transfer the whole occupied population or part of it to the territory of the occupying power).

That does not include the daylight robbery often practised by the Israeli occupier, when the families of the kidnapped children are made to pay ‘fines’ in order to get them back.

Nevertheless, the French government which must be fully aware of these acts, regularly welcomes to France the people responsible for these tortures, thus flouting the International Convention on Children’s Rights (1989)  and the International Convention on Torture (New York Convention, 1984), signed by France and compelling this country to trace and prosecute any person suspected of having committed acts of physical or psychological torture, or ordered them, or knowingly allowed them to be committed.

Now these tortures inflicted on adults and children are public knowledge in Israel, and the whole military and political chain of command does allow or recommend these practices.

Therefore, we call on the French government to respect international law and to stop welcoming to France anyone responsible for these tortures.

Furthermore, we are asking all the important NGOs defending Human Rights and Children’s Rights to take concrete action and lodge complaints with French courts on behalf of the victims of these tortures, or of their families, as soon as they are informed of such cases.

As Amnesty International writes: “If you are revolted by torture, arbitrary detention, poverty, the death penalty, injustice, forced expulsions, impunity… transform your indignation into action!

stoptortureenfantspalestiniens.wesign.it

ONU: BAMBINI PALESTINESI TORTURATI E USATI COME SCUDI UMANI DA ISRAELE

La Commissione delle Nazioni Unite per i diritti umani del bambino ha denunciato che i minori palestinesi vengono torturati e usati come scudi umani da Israele. Inoltre ai bambini rapiti dalle forze israeliane nella Striscia di Gaza e in Cisgiordania nella guerra del 1967 viene negata la registrazione dell’atto di nascita e l’accesso al sistema sanitario o a scuole decenti, denunciano i 18 esperti indipendenti che fanno parte della Commissione Onu il cui incarico è quello di monitorare il rispetto della Convenzione dei diritti del fanciullo da parte di quei governi che l’hanno ratificata. In un periodo analizzato di 10 anni, è stato stimato che settemila bambini tra i 12 e i 17 anni, ma alcuni anche di nove, sono stati arrestati, interrogati e detenuti. Alcuni in isolamento per mesi.

Profonda preoccupazione è stata espressa per il ”continuo uso dei bambini palestinesi come scudi umani o informatori”, sottolineando che 14 casi sono stati riportati solo tra gennaio 2010 e marzo 2013. I soldati israeliani usano poi i bambini palestinesi per entrare in edifici potenzialmente pericolosi e li mettono davanti ai carri armati per evitare il lancio di pietre, afferma la Commissione Onu. ”Quasi tutti quelli che hanno usato i bambini come scudi umani e informatori sono rimasti impuniti e i soldati accusati di aver costretto un bambino di nove anni a ispezionare borse sospettate di contenere materiale esplosivo a un posto di blocco hanno ricevuto solo una sentenza di sospensione dall’incarico di tre mesi e poi sono stati reintegrati”, afferma il testo.

”I bambini palestinesi arrestati dalla polizia e dall’esercito (israeliani, ndr) sono soggetti in modo sistematico a trattamenti umilianti e spesso a torture, vengono interrogati in ebraico, lingua che non comprendono, e firmano confessioni in ebraico per essere rilasciati”, si legge nel rapporto rilasciato dalla Commissione. Il testo denuncia quindi come i bambini palestinesi vengano spesso arrestati per il lancio di pietre, reato che puo’ costare anche 20 anni di carcere. E spesso i soldati israeliani arrestano in modo arbitrario. ”Centinaia di bambini palestinesi sono stati uccisi e migliaia sono stati torturati nelle operazioni militari condotti dallo Stato (ebraico, ndr) soprattitto a Gaza dove sono stati condotti raid aerei e navali su zone densamente popolate e con una notevole presenza di bambini, il che va contro i principi di proporzionalita’ e distinzione”, si legge nel documento. Inoltre ”l’occupazione illegale” da parte di Israele del territorio palestinese e delle Alture del Golan in Siria, la continua espansione ”fuorilegge” degli insediamenti ebraici in Cisgiordania , la confisca di terre e la distruzione di casa ”rappresenta una grave e continua violazione dei diritti dei bambini palestinesi e delle loro famiglie”.

(Fonte: Brt/AKI)

Israele tortura bambini palestinesi

‘Usati anche come scudi umani’.

(ANSAmed) – ROMA – Rapporto shock del Comitato dell’Onu per la difesa dei diritti dei bambini, che accusa la polizia e l’esercito di Israele di violenze sistematiche contro i bambini palestinesi, in taluni casi “torturati e usati come scudi umani”.

Un dossier Unicef del marzo scorso parlava di “maltrattamenti, diffusi, sistematici e istituzionalizzati” ai danni dei minori palestinesi (tra i 12 e i 17 anni) detenuti nel sistema militare israeliano. In dieci anni, aveva denunciato l’Unicef, sono stati arrestati circa 7.000 minori, una “media di due ogni giorno”. Il rapporto del Comitato Onu, che dettaglia gli stessi numeri, torna a denunciare “arresti nel corso della notte, detenzioni in isolamento che durano mesi”. Ai minori, fermati con l’accusa di aver lanciato pietre contro i soldati, “vengono legate le mani, bendati gli occhi e vengono trasferiti in luoghi sconosciuti a genitori e parenti”. Le accuse “vengono lette in ebraico, una lingua che evidentemente non conoscono, e vengono loro fatte firmare confessioni scritte anchéesse in ebraico”, recita il rapporto degli esperti del Comitato Onu. In generale, i minori che vivono “nei territori occupati da Israele subiscono sistematiche violenze fisiche, verbali e anche sessuali. Sono sottoposti a umiliazioni, minacce. Una volta arrestati si nega loro l’acqua, il cibo, l’igiene”.

Crimini “che vengono commessi al momento dell’arresto, del trasferimento, dell’interrogatorio, e anche nel corso dei processi a loro carico”, stima ancora il rapporto citando “le testimonianze dei soldati israeliani”. I militari “usano i ragazzini come scudi per entrare in edifici potenzialmente pericolosi” e la “quasi totalità dei casi in cui i bambini sono stati utilizzati come scudi umani e informatori sono rimasti impuniti. E i soldati accusati di aver fatto aprire a un bimbo di nove anni una valigia che sospettavano contenesse esplosivo hanno solo ricevuto una sospensione di tre mesi e il degrado”, denuncia ancora il rapporto.

Secondo la stima Unicef, fino all’aprile scorso, 236 minori palestinesi, 44 dei quali con meno di 16 anni, si trovavano nei centri di detenzione militare. Il Comitato Onu denuncia poi la discriminazione non solo ai danni dei bambini palestinesi, ma in generale di quelli beduini, arabi ed etiopi, e “l’assenza di cooperazione delle autorità israeliane” per quello che concerne i diritti dei minori palestinesi.

(ANSAmed).

Onu: bambini palestinesi torturati, usati come scudi da parte di Israele

Il Comitato dei diritti umani delle Nazioni Unite ha accusato le forze israeliane  di maltrattare i bambini palestinesi torturando quelli in custodia e utilizzandoli alcuni come scudi umani.
Ai bambini  palestinesi  a  Gaza e in Cisgiordania  viene  costantemente negata la registrazione della loro nascita e l’accesso alle cure sanitarie, a  scuole decenti e all’ acqua pulita.
I bambini palestinesi arrestati dai  militari e dalla polizia israeliana sono sistematicamente soggetti a trattamenti degradanti  e spesso torturati, vengono interrogati in ebraico, una lingua che non capiscono  e firmano confessioni in ebraico al fine di essere rilasciati.

La relazione del Comitato delle Nazioni Unite sui diritti del fanciullo ha riconosciuto le preoccupazioni per la sicurezza nazionale di Israele e ha evidenziato   che i bambini di  entrambi i lati del conflitto continuano ad essere uccisi e feriti, ma che più vittime sono tra i  palestinesi.
Ha deplorato il  “persistente rifiuto” di Israele di rispondere alle richieste di informazioni sui bambini nei territori palestinesi e le alture del Golan dopo l’ultima revisione nel 2002.

“Centinaia di bambini palestinesi sono stati uccisi e migliaia feriti  a seguito delle operazioni militari , israeliane in particolare a Gaza, dove sono state attuati attacchi navali  e arei in zone densamente popolate con una significativa presenza di bambini, trascurando in tal modo i principi di proporzionalità “.
Durante questi 10 anni si stima che 7.000 bambini palestinesi di età compresa tra i 12 ei 17, ma alcuni di appena nove anni  siano  stati arrestati, interrogati e detenuti.

Molti sono stati condotti con catene alle gambe davanti a tribunali militari, mentre i giovani sono tenuti in isolamento  a volte per mesi. Il Comitato ha espresso profonda preoccupazione per “l’uso continuo di  bambini palestinesi come scudi umani e informatori : 14 casi sono  stati segnalati tra gennaio 2010 e marzo 2013 .
I soldati israeliani hanno costretto  i bambini palestinesi ad entrare in  edifici potenzialmente pericolosi  prima di loro o  di stare di fronte a veicoli militari per scoraggiare sassaiole.
«Quasi tutti coloro che utilizzano i bambini come scudi umani e informatori sono rimasti impuniti.  I soldati condannati per aver costretto con le armi un bambino di nove anni a  cercare borse sospettate  di contenere esplosivi,hanno  ricevuto soltanto la sospensione della pena di tre mesi e sono stati retrocessi”.L’occupazione abusiva di lunga data di Israele nei territori palestinesi e nella Siria Golan,  l’espansione degli insediamenti ebraici “illeciti “, la costruzione del Muro in Cisgiordania, la confisca delle terre e la distruzione di case e mezzi di sostentamento “costituiscono gravi e continue violazioni dei i diritti dei bambini palestinesi e delle loro famiglie “.

Nel mese di marzo Palmor, il portavoce del ministero degli Esteri israeliano, aveva dichiarato  che  i funzionari del ministero e l’esercito avrebbero   collaborato con l’UNICEF con l’obiettivo di migliorare il trattamento dei minori palestinesi in custodia. ”Israele studierà le conclusioni e si adopererà per la loro attuazione attraverso la cooperazione con  l’UNICEF,  di cui riconosciamo il valore e rispettiamo come organizzazione “

BoccheScucite

Palestinian children tortured, used as shields by Israel: U.N

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA | Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:35pm EDT

(Reuters) – A United Nations human rights body accused Israeli forces on Thursday of mistreating Palestinian children, including by torturing those in custody and using others as human shields.

Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, captured by Israel in the 1967 war, are routinely denied registration of their birth and access to health care, decent schools and clean water, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said.

“Palestinian children arrested by (Israeli) military and police are systematically subject to degrading treatment, and often to acts of torture, are interrogated in Hebrew, a language they did not understand, and sign confessions in Hebrew in order to be released,” it said in a report.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it had responded to a report by the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF in March on ill-treatment of Palestinian minors and questioned whether the U.N. committee’s investigation covered new ground.

“If someone simply wants to magnify their political bias and political bashing of Israel not based on a new report, on work on the ground, but simply recycling old stuff, there is no importance in that,” spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

Kirsten Sandberg, a Norwegian expert who chairs the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, said the report was based on facts, not on the political opinions of its members.

“We look at what violations of children’s rights are going on within Israeli jurisdiction,” she told Reuters.

She said Israel did not acknowledge that it had jurisdiction in the occupied territories, but the committee believed it does, meaning it has a responsibility to comply with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The report by its 18 independent experts acknowledged Israel’s national security concerns and noted that children on both sides of the conflict continue to be killed and wounded, but that more casualties are Palestinian.

Most Palestinian children arrested are accused of throwing stones, which can carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, the committee said.

The watchdog examined Israel’s record of compliance with the children’s rights convention as part of its regular review of the pact from 1990 signed by 193 countries, including Israel. An Israeli delegation attended the session.

The U.N. committee regretted what it called Israel’s persistent refusal to respond to requests for information on children in the Palestinian territories and occupied Syrian Golan Heights since the last review in 2002.

“DISPROPORTIONATE”

“Hundreds of Palestinian children have been killed and thousands injured over the reporting period as a result of (Israeli) military operations, especially in Gaza,” the report said.

Israel battled a Palestinian uprising during part of the 10-year period examined by the committee.

It withdrew its troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, but still blockades it.

During the 10-year period, an estimated 7,000 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17, but some as young as nine, had been arrested, interrogated and detained, the U.N. report said.

Many are brought in leg chains and shackles before military courts, while youths are held in solitary confinement, sometimes for months, the report said.

It voiced deep concern at the “continuous use of Palestinian children as human shields and informants”, saying 14 such cases had been reported between January 2010 and March 2013 alone.

Israeli soldiers had used Palestinian children to enter potentially dangerous buildings before them and to stand in front of military vehicles to deter stone-throwing, it said.

Almost all had remained unpunished or had received lenient sentences, according to the report.

Sandberg, asked about Israeli use of human shields, said: “It has been done more than they would recognize during the dialogue. They say if it happens it is sanctioned. We say it is not harsh enough.”

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Allyn Fisher-Ilan in Jerusalem; editing by Alistair Lyon and Raissa Kasolowsky)

Reuters