Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Four Corners "Stone Cold Justice" - links to useful sources

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On February 10 ABC "Four Corners" broadcast an episode titled "Stone Cold Justice", in cooperation with John Lyons from the Australian, which looked at Israel's policies regarding the treatment of Palestinian minors arrested in the West Bank.

While the episode raises important issues regarding the treatment of Palestinian minors, the ABC's report failed to provide adequate background and its approach was sensationalised and one-sided. In addition, Israel has already publicly committed to changing its practices as a UNICEF report in October 2013 confirmed, which the program only mentioned in passing.

We recommend that those interested in the problems with the ABC Four Corners report read the following sources:

  • Honest Reporting's article "Rock Solid Reporting Down Under" which pokes holes in John Lyons' article "Stone Cold Justice" in the Australian on February 7.
  • AIJAC's blog "Don't throw stones" (December, 2011), which was prepared in response to a previous Lyons article in the Australian condemning Israel's treatment of Palestinian children who are arrested for stone throwing.
  • AIJAC's Tzvi Fleischer in the Australia/Israel Review compared the justice system of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
  • AIJAC's Allon Lee in the Australia/Israel Review responded to Lyons' suggestion of an Israel/UNICEF cover up in his article "UN circle of unaccountability.
  • AIJAC's Dr. Colin Rubenstein's letter to the Australian on 17 April 2013, "Minors in Palestine" which stated:

"THE article by Middle East correspondent John Lyons is an example of Israel being damned if it does and damned if it doesn't ("UN circle of unaccountability", 13-14/4).

"It implies the existence of a conspiracy whereby Israel has subverted the UN Children's Fund because UNICEF's report on Palestinian minors in military detention didn't correspond with the tone of moral outrage that has sometimes characterised Lyons's reporting. The report is the first to be issued by UNICEF since it began formally co-operating with Israel -- and positive results of this can be seen in changes in Israeli policy that the report describes.

"Rather than acknowledging these developments, Lyons attacks UNICEF for co-operating with Israel.What is being overlooked are the improvements Israel is making as it tries to handle Palestinian youth who are intent on perpetrating violence, often encouraged by their elders and the Palestinian media.

"The situation is difficult, and there is room for improvement, but it is worth keeping two things in mind. First, it is international law, not discrimination, that requires Israel to treat Palestinian minors in the occupied West Bank in accordance with the legal system in place there. Second, stone-throwing frequently results in severe injury. 

"To give one example, an Israeli toddler, Adele Biton, is still in hospital after being critically injured when her family car crashed after being hit by a stone thrown on March 14. Her mother and two older sisters were also injured. Five Palestinians have been arrested over the attack, all of them minors."

  • Maurice Ostroff's article "Second thoughts on the UNICEF report on Israel" in the Jerusalem Post in April 2013, also criticised Lyons' reports regarding Israel and UNICEF, and compared Israel with how other advanced countries deal with law-breaking minors. 
  • Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor "Child soliders of Hamas not the sole victims of a conflict clouded by propaganda" in the Australian in December 2011.
  • A UNICEF progress report from October 2013 noted Israel is making progress to date, it states:

"In response to the release of the UNICEF paper, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel stated it would study the conclusions and work to implement them through on-going cooperation with UNICEF. The Military Advocate General (MAG) has designated the ‘Military Prosecutor for Judea and Samaria' (West Bank) as the focal point for dialogue on this issue with UNICEF. 

"Since the publication of the UNICEF paper, the Military Prosecutor has been engaging closely with UNICEF and has been reviewing the recommendations of the UNICEF paper. This engagement is facilitating a deeper analysis and understanding of the process of military arrest, detention and prosecution in the West Bank."


Sharyn Mittelman


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