RAMALLAH, March 30, 2015 (WAFA) – Head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club’s (PPC) legal unit Jawad Boulos, Monday reported that there are 99 Palestinian minors detained in Israeli jails, of whom 26 children were arrested in March.
During a visit to minor Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israeli jails, Boulos said that 33 minors are currently serving actual imprisonment sentences for different periods of time.
He stressed that 20 children are suffering from various diseases, citing the case of child Khalid al-Sheikh, who suffers from Anemia and is still detained by the Israeli prison administration despite of his critical health condition and prompt need for medical care.
Boulos affirmed that based on the affidavits of minor prisoners, most of the arrests were made during the late night hours, where children are taken from homes and subjected to interrogation without the presence of a legal guardian as stipulated by law.
He said that children are treated like adults during their detention period in a blatant violation of relevant children’s rights and laws.
To be noted, the Israeli Ofer prison accommodates the highest number of Palestinian minor prisoners when compared to other Israeli jails.
According to media sources, in 2014, approximately one thousand Palestinian children were arrested by Israeli forces, often for no reason. Advocates point to systematic abuse, including physical assault and forced confessions, but the Israeli military remains steadfast.
An attorney and international advocacy officer for Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-Palestine) says that 2014 was “devastating” for Palestinian children.
According to Global Research website, “Palestinian children were regular targets of Israel’s systematic violence throughout 2014,” says Brad Parker of DCI-Palestine.
He said that, “in about twenty percent of cases, kids are brought and held in solitary confinement solely for interrogation purposes,” a practice that has been condemned by international law, which equates it to torture, Parker explained.”
In a report filed on the last day of 2014, DCI-Palestine says that “2014 brought no respite for Palestinian children, whether entangled in the Israeli military detention system, living in residential areas in the Gaza Strip, or simply on their way to school.”
The organization says that in 2014, “the average number of children held in Israeli military detention stood at 197 per month.”
CDI-Palestine reported that, “Three in four Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank last year endured physical violence during arrest and interrogation.”
Data compiled by DCI-Palestine from 98 affidavits of Palestinian children aged 12 – 17 also showed that night arrests between midnight and 5am increased to 56.1 percent from 45.4 percent in 2012. In 21.4 percent of cases, Israeli military, police and security agents held children in solitary confinement for an average of 10 days for interrogation purposes.
To be noted, Israel is the only state to automatically and systematically prosecute children in military courts that lack basic standards of due process.
Around 500 – 700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12, are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system each year.
The majority of Palestinian child detainees are charged with throwing stones. No Israeli children come into contact with the military court system.
DCI-Palestine research shows that children arrive to Israeli interrogation centers blindfolded, bound and sleep deprived. Unlike their Israeli counterparts, Palestinian children have no right to be accompanied by a parent during an interrogation.
In 96 percent of cases documented by DCI-Palestine in 2013, children were questioned alone and rarely informed of their rights, particularly their right against self-incrimination.
The interrogation techniques are generally mentally and physically coercive, frequently incorporating a mix of intimidation, threats and physical violence with a clear purpose of obtaining a confession. More than one in five of the 2013 cases, children signed statements in Hebrew, a language they do not understand.
Impunity for violations was a significant obstacle in 2013 as DCI-Palestine filed 15 complaints with Israeli authorities concerning the ill-treatment and torture of 10 children while in Israeli military detention.
Not a single indictment has been issued against a perpetrator. Many Palestinian families refuse to file complaints for fear of retaliation or simply because they do not believe the system is fair or impartial.
Recent amendments to Israeli military laws concerning children have had little to no impact on their treatment during the critical 24 – 48 hours after an arrest, where most of the ill-treatment occurs at the hands of soldiers, policemen and interrogators.