The United Nations Children's Fund called on Israel on Tuesday to release
160 Palestinian children in its jails and to stop using violence against
Since the eruption of the intifada last year, Israel has arrested more
600 Palestinian children, sometimes holding them in harsh conditions,
Bertrand Bainvel, a UNICEF official in Arab East Jerusalem, said.
"In some cases, children are subjected to violence. In other cases,
(Israel) used psychological threats and this should be stopped," Bainvel
The Israeli Prison Authority denied juvenile prisoners were subjected
violence and said they were treated "humanely and respectfully."
"The prisoners are held in reasonable conditions without any overcrowding
and receive all of their rights and privileges," the authority said in a
statement. But Bainvel said: "We call for the release of all of these
children. They should not be there."
If Israel insisted on keeping children behind bars, Bainvel said, it
improve their health and education conditions and isolate them from criminal
Bainvel's comments came five days after UNICEF called on Israel to stop
targeting Palestinian children in the uprising.
UNICEF also urged the Palestinian Authority to discourage children from
taking part in the revolt that flared in September 2000 after peace talks
Bainvel said his agency was coordinating with Israeli human rights groups
"to investigate more closely" cases of violence.
According to UNICEF, about 194 Palestinian and Israeli children under
age of 18 are among the nearly 900 people killed since the violence flared.
More than 7,000 Palestinian children have been injured, including 530 with
permanent disabilities, while more than 50 Israeli children have been
injured, UNICEF said.