By Nour Qudeimat
Israeli arrests of Palestinians lately have come under fire, especially in light of the escalating violence of the Israeli army and far right-wing government lead by Netanyahu.
CASES OF ARREST
On Thursday overnight, 2 March 2017, at 3 AM, Israeli forces broke into Aida refugee camp south of Bethlehem, and arrested 12-year-old child, Humam Ahmad Radi, from his family home.
Humam’s mother, Eman Radi, told PSCC that Israeli soldiers broke into their house and demanded to take Humam with them. When she told one of the soldiers that “he is only a child,” the soldier slammed her son into the wall and handcuffed him.
“After I said that he was only a child, he angrily pulled down the face mask he was wearing, shouted ‘this is not a child,’ slammed Humam by the wall, handcuffed him, and told three other soldiers to surround me away from him.” the mother said.
“After that, they collected all the knives in the house and took them outside, I don’t understand why. They didn’t even let me help him get dressed, his father did that… The soldier -who slammed him by the wall- said that he can’t even say goodbye to me, so Humam looked at me and told me ‘don’t worry, mother’, then they left,” she continued.
Speaking about her son, she said that “Humam is the smartest kid in his class. He likes reading, watching documentaries, he’s very smart and very polite. I don’t know why they took him.”
The father, Ahmad Radi, said that the family contacted the Red Cross, Addameer Support and Human Rights Association, and the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club where he asked for a lawyer.
The father called on the Palestinian Authority to protect the children who have no play space and live in a small camp where all they can do is play here, and even they they’re only playing, they get arrested.
A similar story happened with two other children from the camp, Mohammad and Anas Al-Massaid, aged 14 and 13, were taken from their family homes at 2 AM, 14 February 2017, and are now in Ofer prison.
The children’s mother, Nisreen Al-Massaid, recited the day of the arrest, saying that “Israeli soldiers came into the house and asked to take Anas… After that they asked for their father’s ID card. They looked at the name of his children on the ID, and when they saw Mohammad’s name attached, they asked to take him too.”
Nisreen does not know their condition in prison, and was not yet allowed to visit them in prison, but she is only allowed to see them in court room, from a distance.
Since their arrest, Israeli court, or the children’s lawyer, had postponed their court sessions about eight times.
The delay from the lawyer is reportedly done so as not to get a “hasty charge” against the children.
Speaking about the process of the court, Nisreen said that there is no specific time for the court, and that it takes a whole day.
“We have to leave to the court in Ramallah, about 8-9 AM, and then wait for them to call our name to go into the courtroom. However, the judge usually delays the court.”
The charges of their arrest according to Israeli Forces were “throwing stones.”
The mother added that her son, Mohammad, has confessed to throwing stones towards the soldiers during their raids on Aida camp, which happens frequently in the camp.
According to the lawyer, the children might get three months in prison and 2,000 NIS fine each, despite their age, and no evidence of charges that might possibly be held against them (stone-throwing).
However, she says that a child might innocently lie even at his home if he feels afraid of something, so what if it was a tough investigator in jail?” saying that the children might say things they haven’t done under the intense pressure from Israeli investigators.
This is not a one or two time occurrence in Aida camp or in the occupied West Bank.
According to Addameer Support and human Rights Association , approximately 700 Palestinian children under the age of 18 from the occupied West Bank are prosecuted every year through Israeli military courts after being arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli army. The most common charge levied against children is throwing stones, a crime that is punishable under military law by up to 20 years in prison. The occupation forces exploit the arrest of children for purposes of recruiting them to work as informants, extort their families financially, and force their families to pay large financial fines to secure their release. The arrest of children has a destructive impact on the level of children’s mental health, often leading to children’s drop-out from schools. (ADDAMEER)
DEFENSE FOR CHILDREN
In order to investigate the legality of such acts, PSCC contacted Ayed Abu Eqtaish, the Accountability Program Director in Defense For Children International. Abu Eqtaish said that the arrest of children itself is not completely illegal, but has much reservations around it. However, the torture, violence, ill-treatment that comes with it is completely illegal.
In addition, the night raids, threats and violence accompanied with the arrest comes under “ill-treatment” and absence of the standards of a just court.
Since the start of February, 45 children among 405 arrests were reported, according to Al-Quds center for the study of Israeli and Palestinian affairs.
Currently, there are 300 Palestinian children in Israeli jails. (Addameer)
On Wednesday, network of organizations seeking to protect children in conflict urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to add 11 parties to the blacklist, including the IDF, of countries and armed groups responsible for grave violations against children.
In addition, Amnesty International in its annual report published on Wednesday, “The State of the World’s Human Rights,” said that Israel is one of the countries that broke international law, and engaged in extensive human rights violations in 2016, including detaining or continuing to imprison thousands of Palestinians without charges or trial, torturing many of those held in custody, promoting illegal settlements in the West Bank and severely hampering the movement of Palestinians.
The report found that among those tortured and detained under administrative orders were also children. Methods of torture included beatings, painful shackling and sleep deprivation. Among 110 Palestinians killed last year by Israeli forces, the report charged, some posed no threat to life and thus were shot unlawfully.