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Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian child prisoners speak

Book Author(s) :
Edited by Norma Hashim, translated by Yousef M. Aljamal
Published Date :
June 2016
Publisher :
Saba Islamic Media Sdn Bhd
Paperback :
144 pages
ISBN-13 :
978-967- 5068-96-6

Ayman Abbasi was beaten so badly when he was arrested his parents could barely recognise their son at the court hearing. He was held at Almaskoubia interrogation centre, released under house arrest, and then imprisoned again.  In his cell Abbasi enjoyed listening to the radio to “escape” what was happening to him, but Israeli guards confiscated his headphones. Abbasi was released but on 29 November 2015 Israeli soldiers shot and killed him in Ein Al-Houza and attempted to steal his body from the medical centre where it had been taken.

Originally from Jerusalem, Abbasi was just 16 years old when he died. Along with 23 other Palestinian children his testimony is recorded in Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak, edited by Norma Hashim, translated by Yousef M. Aljamal with a foreword by Richard Falk. The children – some who have been released, some who are still detained – tell their stories in their own words. Their accounts bear testament to the brutal conditions Palestinian children are subject to in Israeli jails. Most of them have been accused of throwing stones.

Collectively the children reveal that they were spat on, beaten up, strip-searched, forced to confess under torture, pressured to give up their friends’ names, deprived of sleep, forced to stand in the rain, shackled, held in cells infested with insects and in solitary confinement; they were also threatened with sexual assault, to be attacked with dogs, murdered and that their mothers would be tortured in front of them.

In a particularly disturbing account 16-year-old Saleh Khader tells us he watched an interrogator connect an electric wire to the wall before hearing his 15-year-old friend screaming “in a way I had never heard him screaming before”. He later tells us: “It was a tragic night in my childhood.”

For these children it is not simply one night that is tragic – the torture and abuse that takes place in these cells carries consequences far beyond the hours and days it takes place. Many drop out of school as repeated interrogations mean they can’t keep up with their peers. They become depressed, particularly as there are few job opportunities in the West Bank and their security profile makes finding work even harder.

The cruel conditions inside the prison make it easy to forget how young these prisoners are until they recall the enjoyment they once derived from watching cartoons, playing with their friends, eating sweets, buying new clothes and going on holiday. For many these pleasures are a distant memory: “Although by world standards I am considered a child, Jerusalem children are forced to become adults by this occupation,” says one. “Prison made me act like a grown up man,” says another.

As one disturbing story unravels after the other the reader does not start to feel desensitised to the information being put forward, rather indignation increases that such young people can be treated in such a way – disbelief also expressed by these children. Alaa’ Hinthawi asks: “Could these jailors actually have kids who they kiss and tell beautiful stories to before going to sleep?”

As former prisoner and former Palestinian Minister for Prisoners’ Affairs Wasfi Izzat Kabaha points out in his introduction, Palestinian children have taken part in the intifadas, grown up in refugee camps, lived in homes that have been demolished and suffered both food shortages and curfews. It is clear that Palestinian children pay a heavy price under Israeli occupation.

The arrest of Palestinian minors is one of “the clearest pieces of evidence” of Israel’s arbitrary practices, says Kabaha, and its lack of commitment to international law. We need more works like Dreaming of Freedom to help bring this reality to the attention of the international community.

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  • A.S.F.

    OMG, please! These “children” are, in fact, teenagers (many of them in their late teens) who are left to roam the territories unsupervised so that they can spend their days throwing stones, concrete blocks and incendiary devices at armed soldiers and through the windshields of moving cars. If they happen to get arrested or hurt in their “activities”, they go running to the hyperbolic Anti-Zionist press, of which MEMO is but one of many such outlets, devoted to pushing their unfounded “Pallywood” claims (based on “Palestinian eyewitnesses.”) When such “Palestinian children”, at the urging of their ever-so-concerned-for-their-futures” Palestinian governments, break into Jewish homes and murder sleeping ISRAELI/JEWISH people (including other “children”), that is excusable–just the inevitable result of Palestinian “frustration.” When said Palestinian children bomb a bus, they are celebrated by their parents (who get a fat “stipend” as a result) and their society for their murderous so-called “Martyrdom.” It is the Palestinians who are responsible for sacrificing the welfare and futures of their own children. They value the goal of killing Jews and annihilating Israel over the futures of their own children–which is child abuse and exploitation committed on a mass scale.

    • Helen4Yemen

      ‘Pallywood’, you mean like Hollywood?

      Why do you think the Arab Jews lived as family with their Arab brothers while the European Jewry was hated? The Ashkenazi Europeans who arrived on the land of Palestine as ‘returning’ are a European people who had no business on Arab land. Never will a time come when the Arab people will embrace the malignant tumor in the Arab body and pretend all is well.

      • A.S.F.

        Helen, we’ve been through this before. Please take your medication.

        • Blake

          Oppressors do all the oppressed peoples propaganda for them. Kind of obvious who owns the main stream media and its not the Palestinians

      • Eric11210

        The same tired lies from Madame Jihad. So boring. I have shown that idiot jihadi a dozen examples proving that she is a liar but she posts the same tired lies day in and day out.

    • janbn

      If you weren’t brutally occupying the West Bank, having your IDF terrorists rampage through the Palestinian villages and Palestinian homes, demolishing thousands of homes, taking the lion’s share of the water, building your damned ilegal settlements, letting the settlers and their brats throw rocks at Palestinian women and children, imprisoning and often torturing Palestinians no one would be throwing rocks or stones or anything else at these well protected IDF occupying oppressors. That is the way it is. No one wants to be occupied. Jews would not to be occupied and neither do the Palestinians. I suspect that if Jews were in the same situation as the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, their weapons of choice would be a lot more lethal than rocks and stones.

      • A.S.F.

        (1) The Israeli Security Forces actually proposed pulling back their troops in the West Bank. Abbas begged them to stay. The Palestinians are as seemingly incapable of keeping lawful order amongst themselves as they are incapable of accepting the idea of a peaceful co-existence with Israel. (2) You want to read about a REAL rampage? Read up about the Hebron Massacre in the 1920’s which, even you would have to agree, didn’t have anything to do with the “occupation” because it happened in the 1920’s before the state of Israel even existed. And, of course, you conveniently forget that it was the “Palestinians” own insistence on warring with Israel with the intent to annihilate it (in cooperation with their ever-so-concerned-about-them neighboring Arab brethren) that produced that “occupation” in the first place. (3) Arabs/Muslims in that part of the world have always made it their business to kill Jews–or any other people they deem to be their designated “non-believers” du jour–including Christians and other Muslims. So, please refrain from using the “occupation” as the sole excuse for Palestinian/Islamic violence. Historically, it doesn’t hold water. (4)The Israeli’s have offered, countless times, to work with the Palestinians to update their irrigation and water supply system. It is the Palestinian governments who have refused those offers of assistance. The Israeli’s end up paying for the electricity and water that the Palestinians refuse to pay for. The Palestinian governments have yet to pay ONE of their overdue utility bills. (5) It is also the Palestinian governments who refuse to use the billions in “humanitarian aid” that they receive to improve their infrastructure (which said funds are supposed to be addressing.) As a result, their water pipes break and crumble and precious water gets literally spilled into the sand. The resulting water shortage was so bad this summer that Abbas, under pressure from his own people and the rest of the concerned world, tried to deflect blame away from his own corrupt and inept government by declaring that a “secret cadre of rabbis” in Israel were poisoning the Palestinian water supply. He was forced to retract that lie (which is actually one of many old “blood libels” that Anti-Semites trot out from time to time) and say he was, ahem, “Mistaken.” (6) Settlers and their “brats”, eh? You mean, like the 13 year old “settler brat” whose bedroom a Palestinian teenager broke into to in order to slaughter her while she slept? YEAH, HOW DARE SHE “BREATHE WHILE JEWISH” (and asleep!?) (6) You are right about one thing–No sane person “wants to be occupied.” But brain-washed, hate-crazed and reality-challenged people like the Palestinians obviously prefer it to living side by side in peaceful co-existence with Jews. Try cleaning up your own backyard. That problem is all YOUR’S. The rest of us are just stuck with trying to find a way to, literally, live with it.

  • Helen4Yemen

    Palestinians pay a price for what one European people, the Germans did to another European people, the Ashkenazis:

    “Collectively the children reveal that they were spat on, beaten up, strip-searched, forced to confess under torture, pressured to give up their friends’ names, deprived of sleep, forced to stand in the rain, shackled, held in cells infested with insects and in solitary confinement; they were also threatened with sexual assault, to be attacked with dogs, murdered and that their mothers would be tortured in front of them.”

    And the Arabic and Islamic world is asleep at the wheel. Nothing good will ever come about unless these Europeans are repatriated back to their homelands. Time is of the essence.

    • Eric11210

      Except that the so called Palestinians also were complicit in the Holocaust. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was a key advisor to Adolph Hitler.

  • Helen4Yemen

    IF ONLY ….

    Text of the Madagascar Proposal to remove all European Jews by Germany

    The approaching victory gives Germany the possibility, and in my view also the duty, of solving the Jewish question in Europe. The desirable solution is: all Jews out of Europe.

    The task of the Foreign Ministry in this is:

    a) To include this demand in the Peace Treaty and to insist on it also by means of separate negotiations with the European countries not involved in the Peace Treaty;

    b) to secure the territory necessary for the settlement of the Jews in the Peace Treaty, and to determine principles for the cooperation of the enemy countries in this problem;

    c) to determine the position under international law of the new Jewish overseas settlement;

    d) as preparatory measures:

    1) clarification of the wishes and plans of the departments concerned of the Party, State and Research organizations in Germany, and the coordination of these plans with the wishes of the Reich Foreign Minister, including the following:

    2) preparation of a survey of the factual data available in various places (number of Jews in the various countries), use of their financial assets through an international bank;

    3) negotiations with our friend, Italy, on these matters.

    With regard to beginning the preparatory work, Section D III has already approached the Reich Foreign Minister via the Department Germany [interior affairs], and has been instructed by him to start on the preparatory work without delay. There have already been discussions with the Office of the Reichsfuehrer SS in the Ministry of Interior and several departments of the Party. These departments approve the following plan of Section D III:

    Section D III proposes as a solution of the Jewish question: In the Peace Treaty France must make the island of Madagascar available for the solution of the Jewish question, and to resettle and compensate the approximately 25,000 French citizens living there. The island will be transferred to Germany under a mandate. Diégo Suarez Bay and the port of Antsirane, which are [sea-] strategically important, will become German naval bases (if the Navy wishes, these naval bases could be extended also to the harbors – open road-steads – Tamatave, Andevorante, Mananjara, etc.). In addition to these naval bases, suitable areas of the country will be excluded from the Jewish territory (Judenterritorium) for the construction of air bases. That part of the island not required for military purposes will be placed under the administration of a German Police Governor, who will be under the administration of the Reichsfuehrer SS. Apart from this, the Jews will have their own administration in this territory: their own mayors, police, postal and railroad administration, etc. The Jews will be jointly liable for the value of the island. For this purpose their former European financial assets will be transferred for use to a European bank to be established for this purpose. Insofar as the assets are not sufficient to pay for the land which they will receive, and for the purchase of necessary commodities in Europe for the development of the island, the Jews will be able to receive bank credits from the same bank.

    As Madagascar will only be a Mandate, the Jews living there will not acquire German citizenship. On the other hand, the Jews deported to Madagascar will lose their citizenship of European countries from the date of deportation. Instead, they will become residents of the Mandate of Madagascar.

    This arrangement would prevent the possible establishment in Palestine by the Jews of a Vatican State of their own, and the opportunity for them to exploit for their own purposes the symbolic importance which Jerusalem has for the Christian and Mohammedan parts of the world. Moreover, the Jews will remain in German hands as a pledge for the future good behavior of the members of their race in America.

    Use can be made for propaganda purposes of the generosity shown by Germany in permitting cultural, economic, administrative and legal self-administration to the Jews; it can be emphasized at the same time that our German sense of responsibility towards the world forbids us to make the gift of a sovereign state to a race which has had no independent state for thousands of years: this would still require the test of history.

    signed Rademacher
    Berlin, July 3, 1940

    Source: JewishVirtualLibrary

    • Eric11210

      Still spamming with nonsense posts and lies I see. Madame Jihad never changes.

  • Helen4Yemen

    16 July 1965 Interview of Ben Gurion (see link below)

    BEN-GURION: Can I tell you something that is not to be published, which is only to be used for the Archives?

    BAYNE: This is it.

    BEN-GURION: You see, while we were talking he (Kennedy) stood up and took me to a corner far away from the people there. There was Mr. Talbot, our Ambassador, and (Kennedy’s) secretary, Mr. Feldman. He took me away from them and said, “I was elected by the Jews.” Later, I understood this is usual in America. He said to me, “You know I was elected by the Jews. I have to do something for them.” I was shocked. I’m a foreigner; I represent a small state. I didn’t come to him as a Jew, as a voter. And he told me, “You know, I was elected by the Jews of New York. I will do something for you.” I was a little shocked when he said it to me. Then we went back and continued our conversation. This I remember because I was thoroughly impressed, but later I understood that this is usual and in keeping with American politics.

    BAYNE: I see. He wouldn’t have wanted that, perhaps, an open admission of history, but to international relations…

    BEN-GURION: Yes. He took me into a corner at a far away table because we were sitting all together here, and took me over—something like that. [Laughter]

    https://www. jfklibrary. org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKOH-DB-01.aspx

    • Eric11210

      Always with the nonsense spam from Madame Jihad. Even if true,this has zero to do with the article in question.