Stone Cold Justice – The Australian has its say

February 11, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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The Australian newspaper collaborated with ABC-TV’s Four Corners to produce the report on Israel’s treatment of Palestinian child prisoners emphasising the point that they are subjected to the Israeli military law process whereas Israeli children living in the West Bank are subject to Israeli law….The Australian has its say.

from The Australian, Tesday, February 11, 2014

The-AustralianWISELY, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has moved swiftly to correct the worst excesses of the treatment of Palestinian children under the military justice system that has operated on the West Bank since 1967. These have been exposed in a joint investigation by The Australian’s Middle East correspondent John Lyons and the ABC’s Four Corners.

The practices alleged were inhumane. They were also counter-productive. Arresting children at midnight, taking them away from their parents, denying them legal representation during interrogations, locking them in solitary confinement and in metal cages during snowstorms has undoubtedly turned them into implacable enemies for life, in one of the world’s most volatile regions. It’s little wonder, as US President Barack Obama warned, that Palestinian children on the West Bank grow up regarding the Israeli Defence Forces as a “foreign” army.

To understand the problem in context, it needs to be acknowledged that the Israeli army faces constant and often dangerous provocation in the area, with children in the vanguard of stone-throwing and violence. Brutal as it was, such treatment of as many as 700 children a year was an excessive response to an ongoing, simmering conflict and not the product of state-sanctioned racism.

In mainstream Israel, the Middle East’s only functioning democracy, children born to parents of a Palestinian background have the same legal, educational, health and other rights as Jewish children. Israel’s 1.7 million Arab and Palestinian citizens, who comprise a fifth of the nation’s population, share the same rights as the Jewish majority. They vote and some hold parliamentary seats. Most live in peaceful prosperity and are far removed from the strife-torn, tense environment of the West Bank.

Israel’s enemies will undoubtedly seize upon the West Bank revelations to falsely depict the nation as being innately racist. It is not, and never was, but is often on the receiving end of racist propaganda. Israel cannot afford to compromise on security, especially on the West Bank. Ms Livni is a principled politician and an articulate advocate of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In reforming an unacceptable military justice system for minors in a volatile region, she has helped Israel and the children.