Did the Israeli army sexually abuse Palestinian children?

Allegations in CNN report repeated by the Israeli Ynet news website.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have been accused (and have been guilty of!) various crimes over the years, but few have accused Israeli troops in the occupied territories of committing sexual crimes against Palestinians.

However, here is a shocking (if true!) report on Israel's most popular news website, Ynet, citing a "damning" CNN report broadcast on 9 September:

A CNN investigative report aired Thursday slammed the treatment of Palestinian children by IDF soldiers.

The report included uncorroborated charges of sexual abuse against Palestinian youngsters while in IDF custody.

The CNN report featured an unidentified Palestinian boy claiming that IDF forces attempted to insert an object into his rectum after he was arrested. The unidentified youngster said a dozen officers were standing around and laughing while he was being interrogated, stopping only when their commander stepped into the room.

The IDF could not offer a response to the charge because the youngster's name was not provided. The army did say that a complaint should be filed if such cases ever happened.

"Any claim regarding improper conduct by soldiers or police officers will be thoroughly examined by the relevant officials," the army said. "We cannot address general claims on the subject in the absence of a specific complaint."

According to [the] human rights group Defence of Children International, cited in the CNN report, five Palestinian children said they were sexually abused by the Israeli army. No evidence or further information was provided.

I cannot find any reference to this story, or any follow-ups on the allegations, on any mainstream news websites, perhaps because the claims are "uncorroborated" -- or, perhaps, because of the pro-Israeli bias of much of the western media.

You can watch the full CNN report by Paula Hancocks here.

 

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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Jeremy Corbyn wins Labour leadership contest in crushing victory

The Labour leader increased his mandate from 2015. 

Jeremy Corbyn has stormed to victory with an increased mandate in his second Labour leadership contest, with 61.8 per cent of the vote.

The Labour leader won 59 per cent of the member vote, 70 per cent of registered supporters' votes and 60 per cent of affiliated supporters' votes.

His triumph confirms for any remaining doubters the party's shift to the left - in 2015, he had won 59.5 per cent of the vote.

Owen Smith, the challenger, received 38.2 per cent of the vote. He was reported to have conceded defeat moments before the official result.

The turn out was 77.6 per cent, with 506,438 valid votes cast. 

Both men ran on a similar platform of opposition to austerity and zero-hours contracts, but Corbyn commanded the support of the majority of grassroots activists and party members.

In his victory speech, he struck a conciliatory note, thanking volunteers on both teams and telling Smith: "We are part of the same Labour family."

He said: "I will do everything I can to repay the trust and support, to bring our party together."

Pledging to make Labour an engine of change, he urged party members to "wipe the slate clean" after a summer of sniping and work together.

"We are proud as a party that we're not afraid to discuss openly, to debate and disagree. That is essential for a party that wants to change people's lives for the better," he said. 

Noting the party had tripled its membership since last spring, he urged members to take Labour's message into every community, and said the party had a duty of care to its members: "Politics is demeaned and corroded by intimidation and abuse. It's not my way, and it's not the Labour way, and never will be."

Smith, by contrast, stepped forward to represent disaffected Labour MPs, who were unimpressed with Corbyn's campaign during the EU referendum and feared he was unelectable. 

Corbyn's victory will at least temporarily quash any rival leadership bids, but it nevertheless leaves the leader with a headache. 

After the vote for Brexit, a wave of resignations emptied Corbyn's shadow cabinet, and he has not succeeded in fully refilling it. He now faces the choice of building bridges with the parliamentary Labour party, or going down the more radical route of reshaping the party itself. 

Much hinges on the decision of the National Executive Committee on whether to allow elected shadow cabinet positions, which could potentially offer a way back in for anti-Corbyn MPs. But if such elections extended to grassroots members, this could also end up isolating them further.