Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Once again, Save the Children lies about Palestinian kids supposedly tortured by Israel

Last month, Save the Children issued a press release:

 Palestinian children in the Israel military detention system face physical and emotional abuse, with four out of five (86%) of them being beaten, and 69% strip-searched, according to new research by Save the Children. Nearly half (42%) are injured at the point of arrest, including gunshot wounds and broken bones. Some report violence of a sexual nature and some are transferred to court or between detention centres in small cages, the child rights organisation said.

Save the Children’s new consultation showed that: 

During arrest, 42% of children were injured, including gunshot wounds and broken bones, and 65% of children were arrested during the night, mostly between midnight and dawn. Half of all arrests took place in the children’s home.
The majority of children experienced appalling levels of physical and emotional abuse, including being beaten (86%), being threatened with harm (70%), and hit with sticks or guns (60%). 
Some children reported violence and abuse of a sexual nature, including being hit or touched on the genitals and 69% reported being strip searched. 
60% of children experienced solitary confinement with the length of time varying from one 1 day to as long as 48 days.  
Children were denied access to basic services, 70% said they suffered from hunger and 68% said they didn’t receive any healthcare.   
58% of children were denied visits or communication with their family while detained. 

Wow! The vast majority of Palestinian kids arrested are beaten, nearly half are physically injured, and more than half are placed in solitary confinement!

Then, Save the Children describes its methodology. 

In total, 228 former child detainees participated in this study by Save the Children and YMCA. This includes 177 children who responded to surveys and 51 who took part in focus group discussions. A further two focus group discussions were held with parents whose children had been detained. ...

A combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches, including surveys and focus groups, was applied, to ensure that the perspectives and experiences of Palestinian children who experienced arrest and detention were at the core of the study

This is an embarrassing methodology that would shame any credible researcher.

The surveys have, by their very nature, self-selection bias. Only children and parents with a desire to tell their stories will choose to answer the questions, anyone who had an uneventful arrest won't bother answering a survey that is meant to prove Israel tortures kids. 

Save the Children does not publish the methodology of how they determined who to send the surveys to, or the survey questions, which were probably leading questions based on what we know from previous Save the Children reports.  

The focus groups are even worse. The biases seen in focus groups are well known. The moderator can ask leading questions. Those who spin lurid stories of torture would tend to monopolize the discussion, influencing the other kids in the group to want to embellish their own stories. 

Save the Children says nothing about any professional training or expertise their moderators and facilitators have to minimize bias in their responses. 

And when they say they use "qualitative approaches" you know that means that they will weight whatever the kids say towards the worst possible interpretation for Israel. 

The names of the researchers are not mentioned, nor is the author of the press release.  It is completely opaque - and this is not an accident. 

The full report shows how absurd the interviews are. B'Tselem statistics show that the number of children under 14 held in prison is almost always zero, and it is difficult to find one or more children at that age in prison for two consecutive months. But somehow Save the Children finds several 13-year olds who claim they were in horrible conditions in prison:

“Sometimes they broke into our prison cells and made us stand in the cold air outside. They didn’t allow us to sleep. One night, they broke the roof and we had to spend the night with the rain pouring into our room....They hit me with their hands and rifles, everywhere, especially on my private parts.”” Yousef*, detained when he was 13

 “For me, the transfer bus was the worst. There is a tiny box inside that barely fits one person; what they would do is put two of us together in that box handcuffed to each other and driven around all day. They would drive us for hours, from early in the morning to late at night, just locked in that box....I used to have nightmares about my time in prison all the time, especially about the officer who interrogated me. He told me, ‘I promise you that you will dream about me’. And he was right.” Khalil*, detained when he was 13

None of this rings true. But Save the Children wants to issue a report that will make a splash, so they are not interested in the truth. 

In fact, it quotes even less reliable reports as fact - such as the  PLO's Commission for Prisoners and Freed Prisoners which claimed minors "became victims of the sexual lust of their jailers from the Nahshon forces without consideration for their age."

Perhaps this is why this survey did not get any publicity outside of outlets like Al Jazeera and Palestine Chronicle. It is obvious even to anti-Israel media that the results of the "survey" are so out of whack with reality that their publicizing it would hurt their own credibility. 

Save the Children deliberately does everything possible to get the most lurid results for publication - and then quote these "statistics" as if they are scientifically valid. 

After all, if there is no torture, they can't raise funds. 

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