SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – Israel is considering amending its policy on the detention of Palestinian minors following concerns raised by Australia.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr, on an official visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories earlier this week, addressed the issue in a meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Carr also met President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Palestinian leaders in Ramallah in his first official visit as foreign minister.
Carr’s concerns follow a report in The Australian newspaper last November, which claimed that Palestinian minors, who can be imprisoned for up to 65 days, face solitary confinement and torture.
“We are taking very seriously the concerns raised by the Australian Foreign Minister,” the newspaper quoted Israel’s spokesman Yigal Palmor as saying this week. “We have been engaged in a dialogue with the Australian embassy on this issue.
“Information and briefings were provided on the nature of the system and on improvements that have been introduced as well as further measures that are in planning,” he said.
Since 2007, Defense of Children International has collected 385 affidavits alleging abuse, the newspaper reported.
But Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, responded at the time of the initial article in The Australian that Defense of Children International “has an anti-Israel political agenda and is employing ostensible concerns about children primarily as a means to that end. We hope the foreign minister will also call for an investigation into the other side of the problem of Palestinian minors accused of violent acts – the exploitation and indoctrination of children by both Palestinian terror groups and by the Palestinian Authority official education system and media.”