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Israel moves detained Palestinian minors in violation of law

A Palestinian throws a stone to Israeli forces as Israeli security forces intervene them during a demonstration to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, near the Ofer Prison in Ramallah, West Bank on 5 October, 2019 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian minors detained in Israel's Ofer prison were transferred to Damon Prison in Haifa without the presence of adult representatives, the Palestinian Prisoners' Society (PPS) said in a statement, in violation of the law.

The relocation of the 33 Palestinian minors by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) was criticised by Palestinian activists and human rights groups as it goes against the law that states prisoners under the age of 18 cannot be moved from one prison to another without adult representatives.

"This move puts the minors at risk of abusive measures by the IPS in the absence of their adult overseers," the PPS said.

Amina Al-Tawil, a researcher at the Palestinian Prisoners' Centre for Studies, told Al Jazeera: "In addition to the risk of being physically abused by Israeli forces, this transfer puts the lives of these Palestinian children in danger."

"During this cold weather, the minors will not have access to heaters or even adequate clothing to keep warm. Some of them have also sustained injuries during their arrests, which can get worse throughout the move."

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Damon prison, which has been described as inhumane and not to standard, is "one of the worst prisons," Al-Tawil said.

"Its cells, according to released prisoners who had previously spent time there, are full of mould and not fit for human use," she added.

In addition, Damon houses Israeli prisoners held on criminal charges, such as murder, robbery and drug trafficking. While Israel does not hold Palestinian security prisoners in the same cells as Israeli criminals, the threat to Palestinians comes during the transfer journey in the van on the way to prison through a transportation method known as "Bosta".

The "bostas" are blacked-out vehicles wherein Palestinian prisoners are cuffed all the way to the prison while sitting on metal chairs during rides that can last hours, in tightly divided cells with no rest stops, food or toilet breaks.

Ofer prison is located on the outskirts of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, whereas the Damon facility is in the coastal Israeli city of Haifa.

Currently, there are 200 minors in Israeli jails, scattered in Ofer, Damon and Megiddo, reported Al Jazeera.

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