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Addameer report points to bleak future for Palestinian children in Jerusalem

Palestinian children seen along a stretch of the Israeli Seperation Barrier that criss-crosses the occupied West Bank
Palestinian children seen along a stretch of the Israeli Seperation Barrier that criss-crosses the occupied West Bank

Palestinian NGO Addameer has published a detailed factsheet about the repercussions faced by Palestinian children detained and prosecuted by Israel. While many reports are available on the subject, Addameer has narrowed its focus to the targeting of Palestinian children in Jerusalem, analysing the escalation of Israel’s aggressive policies in occupied East Jerusalem from 2016 to date.

Born a Target: the arrest and prosecution of Jerusalem’s Palestinian Children (April 2018) departs from the historical context and moves on to the policies which have rendered Palestinians, especially children, vulnerable to Israeli violence. Testimonies of such children are included in this brief report, which portray the physical and psychological violence used during Israel’s arrest and interrogation procedures. The research is extremely valuable as it discusses Israel’s targeting of Palestinian children within the political context.

The factsheet takes into consideration the various forms of coercion employed by Israel to discriminate against Palestinians in Jerusalem, noting that the targeting of Palestinian children adds to the social problems of their communities caused by home demolitions, forced displacement and the revocation of residency permits. It is, therefore, not just an issue of targeting a segment of the population but a far more meticulous plan to inflict perpetual difficulties in life by rendering a family increasingly vulnerable.

Read: On Palestine Children’s Day, 350 Palestinian children inside Israeli jails

The targeting of children places additional hardships on the family, not least due to the secrecy involved during the early stages of interrogation, during which an arrested child is completely isolated from any form of contact with his or her family. If the arrests are seen within the framework of violations imposed upon Palestinians in Jerusalem, one sees a trend of disrupting society by exploiting the younger generation and, through them, threatening the safety of the rest of the family. One testimony included in the report points to such measures. A 16-year-old Palestinian, who was detained and interrogated in 2017, was threatened thus: “They put me under a lot of pressure, they said they would cancel my Jerusalem identity card and issue an order for the demolition of my family’s house.”

Addameer also notes that since October 2015, which marked the commencement of what was dubbed the Jerusalem Intifada by Hamas, Israel has increased its targeting of Palestinian children in Jerusalem, describing its policy as “a concerted campaign of arrest and imprisonment”. The report notes that children charged with stone throwing are facing obstacles in their social and psychological development due to harsh sentences which result in the child’s marginalisation from society due to imprisonment or house arrest for long periods, hindering, among other things, their academic performance. A child who missed five months of school and was later allowed to resume on condition of being accompanied by his mother, eventually dropped out. “He has been feeling anxious, confused and without direction ever since the day he was arrested,” his mother explained. “I think they want to destroy the boy.”

Read: UNICEF condemns acts of violence against Palestinian children

The report concludes that there is a gap between Israeli domestic law and its application when it comes to Palestinian children in Jerusalem. It is, however, a gap that is unlikely to close, given the lack of international pressure not only in terms of human rights violations, but also the political isolation that is suffocating Palestinians. It is shameful that, short of appeals and pressure, both of which are inadequate to counter Israeli policies, Israel and the international community have colluded in restricting the possibilities of any possible realisation of human, legal and civil rights for Palestinians.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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