The Electronic Intifada reported that:

Israel put Palestinian prisoners, including children, in outdoor cages during the severe winter storm that struck the region in the middle of last month.

“The shocking practice was highlighted in a year-end statement by the advocacy group, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and discussed by Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, this week.

“Also detailed in a letter from the office of Israel’s National Public Defender, the practice had been going on for months, but has now supposedly been halted.

The 16 December letter to the head of the Israel Prison Service (IPS) says that lawyers from the public defender’s office had learned of the practice during an official visit to the Ramle prison compound where Palestinian political prisoners, including children, are often transferred from the occupied West Bank in violation of international law.”

Iron cages

During the visit by two of its lawyers “which coincided with the fierce storm that struck the country, the attorneys met prisoners who described a shocking picture: in the middle of the night, dozens of prisoners were transferred to iron cages built outside the IPS facility in Ramle,” according to a 17 December statement from the public defender.

“In these cages, which were exposed to the weather, they spent several hours in the freezing cold and rain, until the transport arrived to take them to court around 6am,” the statement adds.

The statement said that the practice had been going on for months, a fact “verified during other official visits and not denied by IPS.”

The public defender launched an emergency appeal to various official bodies, including the ministry of justice, “in order to prevent another night of such grave harm to humanity.”

The statement notes that some of the prisoners in the cages were “minors” – children.

The Jerusalem Post reported on 31 December that Tzipi Livni, Israel’s justice minister “immediately telephoned Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, telling him to end the practice.”

The matter was also discussed Tuesday in the Israeli parliament’s public petitions committee where, according to the Post, “the Knesset committee said that the manner of arrest and detention conditions of Palestinian children was violating Israeli law for dealing with children.”

“Alarm”

PCATI’s statement notes “with increasing alarm and condemnation Israel’s failure to protect Palestinian children from direct and indirect torture and ill treatment.”

It says it has received “dozens of complaints of torture and ill treatment from children in the last 10 years” and is currently working on cases “concerning children’s complaints of torture and ill treatment at the hands of Israeli soldiers and interrogators.”

For the full report, please visit Electronic Intifada.