Palestinian children’s right to education denied in Israel prisons

Palestinian children from Jerusalem arrested by Israeli occupation forces are subjected to “a deliberate policy to de-educate”, reported prisoners’ rights group Addameer.

According to Addameer, “over 800 Palestinian children from Jerusalem were arrested in 2018”, and the year “ended with at least 41 detained children from occupied East Jerusalem.”

Although, “under international human rights law, Palestinian children, including those in detention, have the right to adequate education”, “this right is denied in Israeli prisons”, stated Addameer.

Palestinian children typically get a range of 20 hours a week of classes, compared to an average of 35 hours in regular schools, the organization reported. “Most of the time the classes do not meet the level of the child and at times children do not get any form of education in prison.”

Addameer and TDH Italy conducted interviews with Palestinian children from occupied East Jerusalem, between September and December 2018, some while still in detention, others after they had been released.

The interviews showed that a quarter of the children “did not receive any education during detention”, while the others only received Arabic, maths and sometimes Hebrew classes.

Acknowledging that the research was “not necessarily representative of the entire juvenile prison population of Palestinian child detainees from occupied East Jerusalem,” Addameer stated that the documented cases nevertheless “present significant grounds which show that the right to education for children in Israeli prisons is undermined and to some extent denied.”

A contrast with Israeli child prisoners is also instructive. In Israeli prisons, taking the end of high school exam is not allowed for Palestinians, “though the prisoners do conduct it unofficially”.

“Israeli child prisoners held at Ofer,” however, “participate in a differentiated educational program that fully supports the emotional and academic needs of child detainees while preparing them to succeed in the Israeli matriculation exam.”

Addameer noted that “Israel is under an obligation to respect and uphold the rights of the Palestinian population in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law.”

Yet Palestinian children continue to “suffer from restrictions on education imposed by the Israeli occupation forces in prison”, violating the right to education “in different forms”.

Addameer is urging “third state parties to uphold their responsibilities and pressure the Israeli occupation forces to respect its obligations in accordance to international legal standards.”

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