MPchallenged over Israeli war crimesclaim
THE GOVERNMENT must set up a “watch-list” of Israelis who have committed “war crimes” by detaining and interrogating Palestinian children, a Labour MP has claimed.
Sarah Champion said the Israel Defence Forces were guilty of “mass intimidation and collective punishment” of Palestinians in order to protect Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
Leading a debate in Westminster Hall on Wednesday, the Rotherham MP called for a list of “all known war crime suspects” who attempt to enter Britain.
She described instances of Palestinian minors being detained with plastic hand ties, blindfolds, and hoods while being arrested at night and forced to sign documents in Hebrew.
Conservative MPs Andrew Percy and John Howell led the response to Ms Champion’s claims. Mr Howell said investigations by Israeli officers were often conducted in Arabic, with an appeals process, and that minors brought before courts were represented by lawyers of their choosing.
The allegations against Israel were “an unfair selection”, Mr Howell said.
Mr Percy brandished a soft toy described as an “incitement doll” used to encourage Palestinian children to oppose Israel. Around 4,000 of the dolls had been intercepted by Israeli authorities. He also read from a Palestinian schooltextbookwarningchildrenabout “robbing Jews”. The use of such material amountedtochildabusebythePalestinian authorities, Mr Percy said.
More than a dozen MPs from a number of parties spoke in the fractious 90-minute session.
Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood said the government would continue to “support Israel in the challenges it faces”. He called on Israeli authorities to ensure child detainees had earlier access to lawyers and were allowed to have parents present during detention and interrogation.
In a statement, the Israeli embassy in London said Israel attached “great importance to strengthening the protection granted to minors in the military justice system”, while taking into account the security situation in the West Bank.
It said 40 children had taken part in terror attacks against Israelis during the current spate of violence.
Ms Champion visited the Palestinian territories last September as part of a Council for Arab-British Understanding delegation. On her return she was forced to correct comments she had made which contained inaccuracies about the situation in Gaza.