Gareth Smith, Byron Bay
As a school counsellor and child psychologist I am deeply committed to the wellbeing of children. I am not unique in this concern which is why the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) came into being in 1989.
The CRC applies to anyone less than 18 and comprises 54 statements which include children’s rights to good food, health care and clean water and protection from any activities that could harm their development.
Children living in war zones should be specially protected while lawbreaking children should not be jailed or cruelly treated, should not be incarcerated with adults and family contact should be maintained.
In 1991, Israel ratified the CRC but was censured in 2010 by UNICEF because it failed to adopt a national children’s rights strategy which would implement various Israeli laws addressing children’s rights.
The report criticised Israel for exempting the West Bank from the CRC and for defining a Palestinian child (but not an Israeli one) as under the age of 16.
Israeli occupation forces have detained around 9,500 Palestinian minors since the beginning of the second Intifada in September 2000.
Additionally, the annual detention rate of Palestinian minors is 760. Currently there are 243 minors under 18, including 42 under 16 in Israeli jails.
These statistics exclude hundreds of adult prisoners who were minors at the time of their detention, some of them received long-term and life sentences. (http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/5945-9500-palestinian-children-detained-by-israel-since-2000).
Australia is now a member of the UN Security Council and, as a good friend of Israel and ratifier of the CRC, has a moral obligation to try and bring Israel into line and get it to deliver to Palestinian children all the rights they are legally entitled to.