Israel fined Palestinian child detainees who are being held in the notorious Ofer prison 46,000 shekels ($13,000) in September.
In a statement issued today, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC) noted that 108 children were being held in Israel’s notorious Ofer prison, located south of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. Of those 108 children, 35 were arrested in September, Quds Press reported.
The PPC statement also quoted the representative of child prisoners in Ofer, Loay Al-Mansi, as saying that “four children were arrested from their homes, 20 children from the roads and seven children at military checkpoints.” In addition, 14 children were beaten during their arrest and 20 were tried in Israel’s military court.
Israel regularly arrests and detains Palestinian minors. According to Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, “at the end of June 2018, 273 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli prisons as security detainees and prisoners.” Of these 273 minors, 50 were under the age of 16. Three of these children are being held in administrative detention, a status which allows Israel to hold Palestinians without trial or proof that they have committed an offence. Administrative detention is often repeatedly extended and can be indefinite, meaning Palestinians can be held for years without access to legal proceedings and with no knowledge of when they will be released.
Israel’s policy of detaining minors was thrust into the spotlight in December 2017, when then 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi was arrested after a video of her slapping an Israeli occupation soldier who trespassed on her family’s land went viral. Ahed was placed in administrative detention which was extended three times, before she was tried in a closed Israeli military court. Tamimi was finally released in July 2018 after serving eight-months in Israeli prison.
Speaking shortly after Ahed’s release, her mother Nariman stressed that although Ahed’s case had garnered international attention and solidarity, her case was not unique. Nariman told Anadolu Agency that: “Frankly it is probably Ahed’s looks that prompted this worldwide solidarity and that’s racist by the way, because many Palestinian children are in Ahed’s position but weren’t treated in this way.”
Nariman stressed that: “There are thousands of stories that the media needs to pay attention to and highlight all of the [Israeli] occupation’s crimes, because the occupation needs to be seen as the war crime it is and legal measures need to be taken to that effect […] all Palestinian children are Ahed Tamimi.”
According to Defence for Children International (DCI), “since 2000 at least 8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested and prosecuted in an Israeli military detention system.” This means “around 500-700 Palestinian children are arrested, detained and prosecuted each year.” DCI emphasises that Israel’s policy of child detention is in violation of international law, in particular the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 which demands that “children should only be deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort.”