More than 50 Palestinians, including two dozen children, were arrested in a large-scale raid of Issawiya in occupied East Jerusalem in October, as detailed in a new report by NGO B’Tselem.
On the night of 22 October, “hundreds of Israeli police, Border Police and Special Patrol Unit officers” descended on the Palestinian neighbourhood, entering “dozens of homes”.
Some 51 Palestinian residents were detained including 26 children aged 15-17. The raid ended only in the early hours of the morning.
According to the rights group, testimonies gathered by their researcher revealed “a grim picture” of officers “entering homes in the dead of night, waking up families, [and] handcuffing teens”.
After being taken to a number of different police stations, “the teens were interrogated, some without consulting with a lawyer first. At the end of the interrogation, some were made to sign their statement, which was taken down in Hebrew, a language they cannot read.”
B’Tselem added: “Some of the boys were remanded in custody for a day or two before being released – some without any further action take, some to several days of house arrest.”
The Israeli rights group says the testimonies depict a widely-documented routine: “In East Jerusalem, the arrest of Palestinian minors is almost always the default rather than the last resort, in breach of the law, and their rights are violated and trampled underfoot until their release.”
“The teens remain completely isolated for the duration of the arrest, without the protection of their parents or another adult they can trust, and are cut off from their families and daily lives, not knowing what is going to happen to them,” B’Tselem adds.
Such conduct is “part of a policy aimed at allowing authorities to continue this maltreatment of Palestinian minors while shrouding in a cloak of legality this extensive, systemic and well-documented abuse of the fundamental human rights of hundreds of minors.”
“This reality is endemic to Israel’s system of control and oppression of the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem. As long as it continues, the Israeli authorities will in all probability continue treating the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem as unwanted and less-equal, with everything such treatment entails. Real change will come only if the reality in Jerusalem is completely overhauled.”