Catherine Cook, Adam Hanieh, Adah Kay, ' Stolen Youth: The Politics of Israel's Detention of Palestinan Children'

IssueMarch - May 2004
Review by Georgina Reeves

Although various human rights groups have documented and examined the practices used by the state of Israel against Palestinian political detainees, including child prisoners, this book is the first to be published which also provides an in-depth critical analysis of the political motivations behind these actions.

Separated into three sections - Framework and Context, Arrest through Incarceration, and Analysis & Conclusions - this book sets out not only to tell the complete story of what happens to Palestinian children when they are arrested and detained by the Israeli authorities, but also scrutinises the framework established by Israel to enforce the occupation, and how child prisoners fit in to this system of discrimination.

In addition to the testimonies of child prisoners presented, accounts which on their own are deeply disturbing, the authors provide a detailed examination of Israel's political incentive for incarcerating minors. A clear picture emerges of methodical and systematic abuse being used against the most vulnerable members of Palestinian society, its purpose being to subjugate the population as a whole.

Whilst the majority of testimony used focuses on the past three years of the current Intifada, it is clear that the actions of Israel are not solely a response to this. Debunking the myth of “security” so often cited as justification for their actions against Palestinians, they reveal these are practices that have evolved over the decades of occupation, and are very much part of a wider strategy.

The role of international organisations and nation states does not escape their scrutiny either. They demonstrate that despite Israel's persistent violations of various human rights treaties and international law, there is little political will to challenge it. This failure of the international community to act only serves to assist Israel and prolong the suffering of the Palestinian people.

The authors have produced a detailed and incisive examination of Israel's policy in respect of child prisoners as part of the control mechanism employed against Palestinians, as well as placing them in to the much wider issue of Israeli political aspirations.

No other book has concentrated so clearly on the issue of Palestinian children in this context and it provides a chilling insight into childhood as experienced by Palestinians.

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