RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The number of Palestinian children in Israeli jails has surpassed 250 in the wake of the ongoing military search campaign in the West Bank, a Palestinian Authority lawyer said Tuesday.
"Israel is violating international children's rights agreements by detaining Palestinian minors, and it is trying to cover up these violations with the story of the three missing settlers," Hiba Masalha said in a statement.
The Israeli army launched a massive military campaign in the West Bank following the disappearance of three Israeli teenagers from the Gush Etzion settlement on June 12. Israeli forces have arrested hundreds of Palestinians and killed five throughout the search for the teens, who Israel alleges were kidnapped by Hamas.
"Detaining Palestinian children from their houses in the middle of the night without informing their parents and families of the reasons for their detention is kidnapping," Masalha added.
The statement said Palestinian children are often subjected to violence upon being arrested and interrogated in Israeli prisons.
Sixteen-year-old Talal Khalid Sayf was detained on May 3, 2014, and claims to have been beaten badly by Israeli soldiers during the arrest process, the statement said.
Sayf was left with his nose and mouth bleeding, and was also struck in the stomach and back.
Islam Mahmoud Haimouni, 17, was detained from his home on Dec. 18, 2013, according to the statement. He was taken from his home into an Israeli military vehicle and beaten until he lost consciousness.
Sixteen-year-old Hassan Sharif Ghawadrah was beaten so badly during his detention on Nov. 13, 2013 that he was taken to the hospital, before spending 15 days in solitary confinement, the statement said.
Additionally, an interrogator in Huwwara prison beat 17-year-old Musleh Hatem Mifleh in the face and pulled his hair until he confessed, the statement said.
According to a 2013 report by the UN's Children's Fund, Israel is the only country in the world where children are systematically tried in military courts and subjected to "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment."
Over the past decade, Israeli forces have arrested, interrogated, and prosecuted around 7,000 children between 12 and 17, mostly boys, at a rate of "an average of two children each day," UNICEF said.