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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How long will general election campaigning be suspended after the Manchester attack?

Parties have suspended political activities in a mark of respect. 

In the middle of the night, as news broke that an explosion in Manchester had killed scores of concertgoers, political parties reacted almost instantly. Campaigning was cancelled. For at least 24 hours.

Then the details of what happened emerged. That the explosion was deliberately created by a suicide bomber. That little girls died in the blast. Campaigning was suspended indefinitely.

But what does this mean for 8 June 2017? When will campaigning resume, and how? While most see the suspension of the political battle as a matter of respect, some, such as the blogger Guido Fawkes, argue that doing so only gives “the enemies of democracy some satisfaction”.

Here is what we know so far:

The parties have suspended national campaigning

All the mainstream parties have agreed to suspend national campaigning, and are likely to agree together before resuming campaigning again. 

However, Labour has advised candidates that local campaigning is at their discretion. If it does happen, it will be leaflets through doors, rather than public stalls.

Broadcast interviews have also been cancelled

The BBC's Andrew Neil interviewed Theresa May on Monday night, in what was supposed to be the first of a series of interviews with the leaders of different political parties. However, the second, with Ukip’s Paul Nuttall, was scrapped. 

A BBC spokeswoman said: "Following tragic events in Manchester, The Andrew Neil Interviews will not go ahead as planned whilst election campaigning is suspended." The decision to resume interviews is likely to reflect when campaigning resumes. 

The suspension is a gesture of respect

The UK terrorist threat level has risen to “critical”. Since the Westminster Parliament was the target of a terrorist attack only two months ago, you might think one of the primary reasons for stopping campaigning would be the security of the public figures involved.

However, party sources say the main motivation for suspending the campaign is out of respect, and a realisation that the public does not want to see parties squabbling at this point in time. 

Indeed, so far, politicians have not exactly been hiding. The Prime Minister Theresa May went to Manchester on Tuesday morning, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and home secretary Amber Rudd attended the vigil in the evening. 

No one really knows when campaigning will resume

Because the parties want to begin campaigning at the same time, there is no fixed time for when candidates hit the streets again. However, the awkward fact remains that we are halfway through a general election campaign. The Scottish National Party cancelled its manifesto launch after the terror attack. So while “indefinite means indefinite”, as one party source told me, it can’t really mean 8 June. 

When the Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered during the EU referendum, campaigning was suspended for three days before resuming again. If the same rule is applied, campaigning may start as early as Friday. However, the parties may prefer to wait until the weekend, and make a fresh start on Monday.

The Scottish Greens certainly seem to be planning for this. A planned manifesto launch on Friday has been postponed, but may happen on Monday. 

Campaigning may look a bit different when it starts

When campaigning does resume, it is likely to be a gradual process, rather than epic photo ops and rosettes. In the meantime, expect more scrutiny of parties’ policies on terrorism, security and civil liberties. 
 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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