Israeli forces have detained an estimated 200 Palestinian children in the Issawiya neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem over the last few months, in many cases violating their basic rights.
According to data from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), reported by Haaretz, more than 600 residents have been arrested since the launch of regular police raids in Issawiya, with residents and lawyers saying that “about a third of those who have been held are minors”.
The report added that these raids have been characterised by “the violation of the rights” of detained Palestinian children, including “the use of force, night-time arrests, questioning not in the presence of their parents, rides in patrol cars for intimidation and unnecessary handcuffing”.
ACRI has stated that the Israeli police “systematically violate the rights of minor suspects” in Issawiya, adding that while “the law may allow the police to not follow these rules in extreme cases”, it is “unfeasible that such exceptional circumstances existed in all these cases and in any case the police have never presented evidence of such a need”.
ACRI’s report cites a number of disturbing example, including the arrest three weeks ago of an 11-year-old boy (the age of criminal responsibility is 12).
“The police officers put him in a police car, took him for a ride around the neighbourhood and then took him to the police station,” Haaretz reported, adding that in “a video clip of the arrest spread on social media, the child’s great fear and anxiety [were] on display.”
When Samar, the boy’s father, was summoned to the police station, he was told that his son had been throwing stones.
The policeman showed me a video and said that’s my son, and I told him it’s not him. Only then did they look and it turns out there was nothing. They released him
In another case, a 13-year-old boy “said police officers broke into his house even though they were told that his parents were not at home”.
“The policeman pushed my head against the sofa and then hit me in the head with something hard. I think it was a tear gas grenade. I was really scared. They pushed my hands forward, and handcuffed them with plastic cuffs and took me outside while my little brothers were screaming and crying.”
The boy was questioned and released a few hours later “after his father was summoned to the police station”, the report added.
Israel Police told Haaretz that its forces’ actions in Issawiya over the past few months have been a response to “hundreds of violent incidents and riots against civilians and security forces”, adding that in 2019 police “identified clearly nationalist activities of violent and inflammatory nature”.
A recent development noted by the paper is the arrest of five Issawiya residents “after violating an administrative arrest warrant” barring them from “leaving their homes after dark” – an order “issued without presentation of any evidence”.