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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Britain tells Israel to treat Palestinian children better

Ahed Tamimi case cited in calling on Israel 'to improve its practices in line with international law'

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi arrives for the start of her trial in an Israeli military court at Ofer military prison in the occupied West Bank village of Betunia on February 13, 2018. Thomas Coex / AFP
Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi arrives for the start of her trial in an Israeli military court at Ofer military prison in the occupied West Bank village of Betunia on February 13, 2018. Thomas Coex / AFP

Israel must improve the treatment of Palestinian children in military detention and do more to safeguard vulnerable people in its care, Britain said on Friday.

The Foreign Office issued a statement in the wake of the sentencing of Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi, who was arrested after kicking and slapping an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank in December.

Tamimi, who was 16 at the time of the incident, accepted a plea deal this week under which she will be sentenced to eight months in prison.

"The conviction and sentencing of Ahed Tamimi is emblematic of how the unresolved [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict is blighting the lives of a new generation who should be growing up together in peace, but continue to be divided," Alistair Burt, Britain's minister for the Middle East, said.

"The treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention remains a human rights priority for the UK. We will continue to call upon Israel to improve its practices in line with international law and obligations," he said.

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Mr Burt said Britain had offered to help the Israeli authorities through expert-to-expert talks with British officials. Israel had made some improvements but needed to do much more to safeguard vulnerable people in its care, he said.

Tamimi became a hero to Palestinians after the incident outside her home in the village of Nabi Saleh was streamed live on Facebook by her mother and went viral.

The soldiers had deployed during a a weekly Palestinian protest in the village against Israeli policy on settlements in the West Bank, one of the most heated issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinians want the West Bank for a future state, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Most countries consider as illegal the Israeli settlements, built on territory which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel disputes that its settlements are illegal and says their future should be determined in talks with the Palestinians, although the peace process has collapsed.

Amnesty International said after Tamimi's conviction that her sentence was at odds with international law and showed that Israel had no regard for the rights of Palestinian children.

About 350 Palestinian children are currently in Israeli detention, the human rights group said.

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