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Israel's house arrest policy turns Palestinian parents into 'prison guards'

Israeli forces arrest a Palestinian man in Jerusalem on 13 February 2022 [Mostafa Alkharouf\Anadolu Agency]
Israeli forces arrest a Palestinian man in Jerusalem on 13 February 2022 [Mostafa AlkharoufAnadolu Agency]

Ashraf Rajabi, 16, was detained by Israeli forces in October 2021, as he was returning home in the town of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, Anadolu News Agency reports.

The Palestinian minor was accused of throwing stones at Israeli forces during protests against the razing of Al-Yusufiye Cemetery, one of the oldest Islamic graveyards in East Jerusalem.

Rajabi remained in Israeli custody for 10 days, but interrogators failed to provide evidence on the claims against the Palestinian boy.

He was released on parole by an Israeli court, which slapped him with a $300 fine and ordered him to remain under house arrest for five days.

READ: On Palestinian Children's Day, at least 160 of them languish in Israeli prisons

"We received an order from the court on the fifth day that his house arrest will be extended," his father, Kayed Rajabi, told Anadolu Agency.

"Ever since, the court has continued to extend his house arrest, without setting a date for ending the measure," he said.

Prison guards

The Palestinian father said that he and his family have become like "prison guards" who observe their son's movement all the time to alert him not to leave the house.

The Israeli court has threatened the family with a $3,000 fine if Rajabi left the house, in addition to placing the boy behind bars.

As a result of his house arrest, the Palestinian boy is unable to participate in any social activities, either with his family or friends.

Israeli authorities use the policy of house arrest against Palestinian minors as the law does not allow children to be imprisoned under the age of 14.

READ: Israel bans Jerusalem Waqf deputy director from Al-Aqsa for 6 months

Instead, they place them under house arrest throughout the course of the trial until they come of age, and can then be given an actual prison sentence.

There are no exact figures on the number of Palestinian children held under house arrest by Israel.

An estimated 4,500 Palestinians are believed to be held in Israeli prisons, according to data compiled by organisations on the rights of prisoners.

Unjust policy

Last month, the Israeli court allowed Rajabi to leave his home for school before returning to his house   arrest.

"He was only allowed to leave home from 7:00 a.m., but he must return home at 3:00 p.m. Otherwise, the family will be punished in case of any violation," his father said.

He said his son misses socialising with his relatives and friends as well as his sports activity.

"My son is under tremendous psychological stress," he said. "He is completely isolated now and can't even visit his uncle's house, which is adjacent to our house."

Rajabi's family are waiting for the next court session on 18 April. Until that day, they must keep observing the boy and never allow him to leave the house for any reason.

"Being a jailer for your son inside his home is harder than his detention in Israeli jails," the sad father said. "Can you imagine how much we suffer every day by this unjust policy?"

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