MIDDLE EAST

More than 3,500 Palestinians detained by Israeli forces so far this year

Israeli occupation forces have detained 3,533 Palestinians during the first half of the year, including 651 children, several Palestinian human rights organizations said on Tuesday. In a joint report prepared by human rights organizations Palestinian Prisoners Club, Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights, the Prisoners Commission and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Israel arrested 449 Palestinians in June, including 117 from Jerusalem and 12 from the Gaza Strip, most of them fishermen who were arrested while at sea.Israeli treatment of Palestinian children in military detention has become a major area of concern for the international community. According to the Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies, there was a 30 percent increase in the number of children arrested when compared to the same period in 2017 when 380 children were arrested by Israeli forces.

Administrative detention allows Israel to detain people without charge or trial for renewable six-month periods. Israel says administrative detention is intended to allow authorities to hold suspects, while continuing to gather evidence, with the aim of preventing attacks in the meantime. But the system has long been criticized by Palestinians, human rights groups and members of the international community that say Israel abuses the measure.

The Israeli army frequently conducts wide-ranging arrest campaigns in the occupied West Bank on the pretext of searching for "wanted" Palestinians. Around 6,500 Palestinians are currently in Israeli prisons, including 350 child prisoners, according to Palestinian figures. Of those, around 430 were detained under the so-called administrative detention laws. An earlier report released by Palestinian Prisoner's Society (PPS) in April also claimed that 700 of the detainees suffer from chronic diseases, which need urgent medical treatment and intensive follow up while 26 of them have cancer.

Lately, Israel was criticized by a U.N. human rights body for its killings of protesters in Gaza and treatment of Palestinians, declaring it a "war crime" under the Statute of Rome. The high casualty toll triggered a diplomatic backlash against Israel and new charges of excessive use of force against unarmed protesters.

According to the U.N., over the past seven weeks, over 100 Palestinian demonstrators have died at the hands of the Israeli military. Among the dead are children, journalists, medics and many young unemployed men. Approximately, 12,000 have been injured. Over 1,000 children have been injured by Israeli forces in the besieged Gaza Strip during demonstrations, according to the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF). The U.N. body pointed out that some injuries had been severe and potentially life altering, including amputations.

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