A report in Haaretz on Sunday claimed that most Palestinian minors arrested by the Israel occupation forces “claim physical violence” during their detention. According to renowned journalist Amira Hass, 60 per cent of the minors had experienced violence and only 10 per cent met with a lawyer.
A 2013 UNICEF report accused Israel of systematically abusing young Palestinian detainees. Nothing, noted Hass, has changed since then.
The indictments filed by the Israeli ministry, said Hass, are generally “vague” and lack specific details. They do not include, for example, any evidence, the dates and times of arrest or places where alleged stone-throwing (the common accusation) took place.
The Israeli journalist said that the army has arrested 125 Palestinian minors in the occupied Palestinian territories since the start of 2017. Some of them, she said, spent extra time in jail because their families cannot afford to pay fines of up to NIS 5,000 ($1,350). “Where can I get this fine?” screamed one distraught mother in the military court in Ofer, “What do want me to do? Fund the occupation?”
The effects of arrest and detention on the children are severe. One anonymous father said that his son is no longer the same person who was arrested.
He is no longer joking. He is no longer speaking too much. He remains silent for longer than ever. He faces difficulties at school. He cannot speak long phrases.
A lawyer from the Citizens’ Rights Association, Nisreen Eliyan, said that many minors change after they are released from Israel’s jails and go back home, reported Hass, who added that the NGO Military Court Watch has collected together the accounts of 450 minors arrested between 2013 and 2016. Of these, 96 per cent were handcuffed with plastic shackles that cause a lot of pain; 81 per cent were blindfolded; 60 per cent were physically abused; and 49 per cent were abused verbally.
“The soldiers arrested me,” said one of those who spoke to the NGO. “They put my face down to the ground. They handcuffed and leg-chained me. They blindfolded me and put me in a military jeep. They beat me again and asked me to sing. I refused.” He wasn’t allowed to hug his father when he came to visit him in the detention centre, he claimed, and his clothes were torn up.