Hundreds of Palestinian Children Languish in Israel’s Gulag
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
According to Defense for Children International (DCI) Palestine, “500-700 Palestinian children…are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system” annually.
It’s for the crime of wanting to live free on their own land, in their own country, its sovereignty respected according to international law.
DCI-Palestine (DCIP) provides legal assistance for oppressed Palestinians.
On December 2, the organization explained that ruling Israeli regimes “detain Palestinian children in isolation solely for interrogation purposes, a practice that amounts to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Its new report titled: “Isolated and Alone: Palestinian children held in solitary confinement by Israeli authorities for interrogation” explained the following:
“Evidence and documentation collected by DCIP overwhelmingly indicate that the isolation of Palestinian children within the Israeli military detention system is practiced solely to obtain a confession for a specific offense or to gather intelligence under interrogation.”
DCIP found “no evidence demonstrating a legally justifiable use of isolation of Palestinian child detainees, such as for disciplinary, protective, or medical reasons.”
“Solitary confinement has been used, almost exclusively, during pre-charge and pretrial detention” to terrorize isolated children into submission.
DCIP general director Khaled Quzmar explained that:
“International law prohibits the use of solitary confinement and similar measures constituting cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment against children, and yet Israeli authorities frequently detain children in this manner.”
“It is widely acknowledged that this practice causes both immediate and long-term psychological harm to children. It must end immediately, and the prohibition must be enshrined in law.”
The Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association earlier explained the following:
Israeli soldiers violently burst into Palestinian homes, most often pre-dawn.
Children are dragged from their beds, shackled, taken from parents and siblings, and brought to unknown locations.
Held in isolation for terrorizing interrogations, they’re subjected to physical and/or psychological abuse with no one around to support their rights.
Harsh interrogations “violate both international conventions, such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Fourth Geneva Convention, and Israel‘s own laws related to the rights of minors,” including its Youth Law, Addameer explained.
Palestinian children “young as seven” are subjected to this type abuse.
According to an earlier report by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI):
Israel ignores the harmful effects on the physical and mental well-being of detained Palestinian children in breach of its own laws that prohibit abusive interrogations.
In detention for days, Palestinian children are “handcuffed… threatened during interrogations, screamed at, and coerced by any means into revealing information about the incidents taking place in their neighborhoods.”
“Even when the police have been aware that the minor in question was under the age of criminal responsibility, they have made no distinction between these younger children and older ones in the way they have conducted their investigations.”
Addameer explained that terrorizing arrests, detentions, and interrogations aim to “intimidate and scare” children, along with attempting to “discourage Palestinian political activism…”
DCIP explained that detained children are held “in isolation cells…characterized by inadequate ventilation, 24-hour lighting, no windows, unsanitary bedding and toilet facilities, and hostile architectural features such as wall protrusions.”
During interrogations, they’re denied the right of counsel and presence of parents or other family members.
Techniques used are “mentally and physically coercive, frequently incorporating a combination of intimidation, threats, verbal abuse, and physical violence…”
Israel is the only nation known to prosecute hundreds of Palestinian children annually in military courts — their rights denied.
Guilt by accusation is longstanding Israeli policy in mistreatment of Palestinian adults, youths, and children.
DCIP estimates that since 2000 alone, around 13,000 Palestinian children have been abused this way.
On average they’re detained around two weeks, long enough to break their spirit.
Many Palestinian children are detained for longer periods.
Most often they’re unlawfully transferred from Occupied Palestine to Israel for control by its prison authorities — a flagrant Fourth Geneva breach.
Haaretz earlier reported that Palestinian children are threatened with remarks like:
“I’ll bring your mother here and kill her before your eyes.”
“If you don’t confess, we’ll take away your father’s permit to work in Israel.”
“Because of you, he’ll be out of work and the whole family will go hungry.”
Whether a confession is obtained or not, imprisonment follows under harsh conditions.
A child may be disrobed for a body search. In winter, they can be held outside naked in freezing cold weather for a short or longer period.
Trials are pre-scripted when held, guilt virtually automatic, innocence almost never a defense.
Most often they end in plea bargains — even when no evidence suggests guilt of any offense.
When some form of what Israel considers wrongdoing was committed — like stone-throwing, a largely political act — what happened was too minor to matter.
Haaretz earlier reported Israeli abuse of children as told in their own words or by a parent:
Khaled Mahmoud Selvi, arrested at age-14 (October 2017)
“I was arrested when I was 14, all the boys in the family were arrested that night.”
“A year later, I was arrested again, with my cousin. They said I burned tires. It happened when I was sleeping.”
“My mother woke me up. I thought it was time for school, but when I opened my eyes I saw soldiers above me.”
“They told me to get dressed, handcuffed me and took me outside. I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and it was cold that night.”
“My mother begged them to let me put on a jacket, but they didn’t agree.”
“Finally, she threw the jacket on me, but they didn’t let me put my arms in the sleeves.”
“They took me to the Karmei Tzur settlement with my eyes covered, and I had the feeling that they were just driving in circles.”
“When I walked, there was a pit in the road and they pushed me into it, and I fell.”
“From there they took me to Etzion police station. There they put me in a room, and soldiers kept coming in all the time and kicking me.”
“Someone passed by and said that if I didn’t confess, they would leave me in jail for the rest of my life.”
“At 7 A.M., they told me the interrogation was starting. I asked to go to the toilet before.”
“My eyes were covered and a soldier put a chair in front of me. I tripped. The interrogation went on for an hour.”
“They told me that they saw me burning tires and that it interfered with air traffic. I told them it wasn’t me.”
“I didn’t see a lawyer until the afternoon, and he asked the soldiers to bring us food.”
“It was the first time I had eaten since being arrested the night before.”
“At 7 P.M., I was sent to Ofer Prison, and I remained there for six months.”
“In that period, I was in court more than 10 times.”
“And there was also another interrogation, because a friend of mine was told while being questioned that if he didn’t confess and inform on me, they would bring his mother and shoot her before his eyes. So he confessed and informed.”
“I’m not angry at him. It was his first arrest, he was scared.”
Khaled Shtaiwi, arrested at age-13 (November 2018)
Khaled’s story is told by his father, Murad Shatawi:
“On the night he was arrested, a phone call from my nephew woke me up.”
“He said the house was surrounded by soldiers. I got up and got dressed, because I expected them to arrest me, on account of the nonviolent demonstrations I organize on Fridays.”
“I never imagined they’d take Khaled. They asked me for the names of my sons.”
“I told them Mumen and Khaled. When I said Khaled, they said, ‘Yes, him.”
“We’re here to take him.’ I was in shock, so many soldiers showed up to arrest a boy of 13.”
“They handcuffed and blindfolded him and led him east on foot, toward the settlement of Kedumim, all the while cursing and hitting him a little.”
“I saw it all from the window. They gave me a document showing that it was a legal arrest and I could come to the police station.”
“When I got there, I saw him through a small hole in the door. He was handcuffed and blindfolded.”
“He stayed like that from the moment they arrested him until 3 P.M. the next day.”
“ That’s a picture that doesn’t leave me. I don’t know how I’ll go on living with that picture in my head.”
“He was accused of throwing stones, but after four days they released him, because he didn’t confess and there was no other evidence against him.”
“During the trial, when the judge wanted to speak to Khaled, he had to lean forward in order to see him, because Khaled was so small.”
“What was it like to see him like that? I am the father. That says it all. He hasn’t talked about it since getting out, three months ago.”
“That’s a problem. I’m now organizing a ‘psychology day’ in the village, to help all the children here who have been arrested.”
“Out of 4,500 people in the village, 11 children under the age of 18 have been arrested; five were under the age of 15.”
Omar Rabua Abu Ayyash, arrested at age-10 (December 2018)
“Omar looks small for his age. He’s shy and quiet, and it’s hard to talk to him about the arrest, so members of his family recount the events in his place.”
Omar’s mother: “It happened at 10 A.M. on Friday, when there is no school.”
:Omar was playing in the area in front of the house. He threw pebbles at birds that were chirping in the tree.”
“The soldiers, who were in the watchtower across the way here, picked up on what he was doing and ran toward him.”
“He ran, but they caught him and knocked him down. He started to cry, and he wet his pants. They kicked him a few times.”
“His grandmother, who lives here below, immediately went out and tried to take him from the soldiers, which caused a struggle and shouts.”
“In the end, they left him alone and he went home and changed into dry pants.”
“A quarter of an hour later, the soldiers came back, this time with their commander, who said he had to arrest the boy for throwing stones.”
“When the other children in the family saw the soldiers in the house, they also wet their pants.”
Omar’s father takes up the story: “I told the commander that he was under 12 and that I had to accompany him, so I rode with him in the jeep to the Karmei Tzur settlement.”
“There the soldiers told him not to throw stones anymore, and that if he saw other children doing it, he should tell them.”
:From there they took him the offices of the Palestinian Authority in Hebron. The whole story took about 12 hours.”
“They gave him a few bananas to eat during those hours. Now, whenever the children see a military jeep or soldiers, they go inside.”
“They’ve stopped playing outside since then. Before the incident, soldiers used to come here to play soccer with the children. Now they’ve stopped coming, too.”
Tareq Shtaiwi, arrested at age-14 (January 2019)
“It was around 2 P.M. I had a fever that day, so Dad sent me to my cousin next door, because that’s almost the only place in the village with a heating unit.”
Suddenly soldiers showed up. They saw me watching them from the window, so they fired shots at the door of the building, knocked it down and started to come upstairs.”
“I got scared, so I ran from the second floor to the third, but they stopped me on the way and took me outside.”
“The soldiers wouldn’t let me take my coat, even though it was cold and I was sick.”
“They took me on foot to Kedumim, handcuffed and blindfolded. They sat me on a chair.”
“I heard doors and windows being slammed hard, I think they were trying to scare me.
“After a while, they took me from Kedumim to Ariel, and I was there for five-six hours. They accused me of throwing stones a few days earlier with my friend.”
“I told them I hadn’t thrown any stones. In the evening they moved me to the Hawara detention building.
“One of the soldiers told me I would never leave there. In the morning I was moved to Megiddo Prison.”
“They didn’t have prisoners uniforms in my size, so they gave me clothes of Palestinian children who had been there before and left them for the next in line.”
“I was the youngest person in the prison.
“I had three court hearings, and after 12 days, at the last hearing, they told me that it was enough, that my father would pay a fine of 2,000 shekels ($525) and I was getting a three-year suspended sentence.”
“The judge asked me what I intended to do after getting out, I told him I would go back to school and I wouldn’t go up to the third floor again.”
“Since my arrest, my younger brother, who’s 7, has been afraid to sleep in the kids’ room and goes to sleep with our parents.”
Adham Ahsoun, arrested in October 2018, on his 15th birthday.
“On my 15th birthday, I went to the store in the village center to buy a few things.”
“Around 7:30 in the evening, soldiers entered the village and children started to throw stones at them.”
“On the way home with my bag, they caught me. They took me to the entrance of the village and put me in a jeep.”
“One of the soldiers started to hit me. Then they put plastic handcuffs on me and covered my eyes and took me like that to the military base in Karnei Shomron.”
“I was there for about an hour. I couldn’t see a thing, but I had the feeling that a dog was sniffing me. I was afraid.”
“From there they took me to another military base and left me there for the night. They didn’t give me anything to eat or drink.”
“In the morning, they moved me to the interrogation facility in Ariel. The interrogator told me that the soldiers caught me throwing stones.”
“I told him that I hadn’t thrown stones, that I was on my way home from the store.”
“So he called the soldiers into the interrogation room. They said, ‘He’s lying, we saw him, he was throwing stones.’ ”
“I told him that I really hadn’t thrown stones, but he threatened to arrest my mother and father. I panicked.”
“I asked him, ‘What do you want from me?’ He said he wanted me to sign that I threw stones at soldiers, so I signed. The whole time I didn’t see or talk to a lawyer.”
“My plea bargain was that I would confess and get a five-month jail sentence.”
“Afterward, they gave me one-third off for good behavior. I got out after three months and a fine of 2,000 shekels.”
“In jail I tried to catch up with the material I missed in school. The teachers told me they would only take into account the grades of the second semester, so it wouldn’t hurt my chances of being accepted for engineering studies in university.”
Countless other accounts of abused Palestinian children are similar to what’s explained above.
That and much more is what the scourge of Israeli apartheid viciousness is all about.
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