World, Middle East

Palestinian minors suffer 'detention, abuse' by Israel

Children – some under seven years old – remain frequent targets of Israel’s occupation, according to Palestinian rights groups

14.12.2017
Palestinian minors suffer 'detention, abuse' by Israel Israeli forces detain Palestinian Fevzi El-Juneidi, 14-year-old, following clashes after protests against a decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the West Bank city Hebron, 07 December 2017. ( Wisam Hashlamoun - Anadolu Agency )

By Gharib Suleiman

JERUSALEM

Amjad, a 15-year-old Palestinian boy, cannot forget the moment he was detained by Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank two months ago.

"I remember the incident as if it were yesterday," Amjad, whose family preferred not to give his second name, told Anadolu Agency.

The Palestinian boy was detained while participating in a rally in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.

"I was held in a military vehicle and blindfolded for more than two hours, during which soldiers kept insulting me," he recalled.

With a terrified look on his face, Amjad said he had been taken to a military base near his village where he says he was subjected to physical abuse.

"I was stripped naked and searched for over 30 minutes by three soldiers," he said. "They held me in a room for more than three hours without water or food."

As his father embraced him, Amjad continued his story, recalling how he had been taken to another room for interrogation.

"The Israeli officer shouted at me all the time," the boy said. "After I refused to answer one of his questions, he punched me three times in the stomach."

"I couldn’t catch my breath and had to vomit from the pain," the anguished child said, unable to continue his story.

Amjad’s father broke in at that point, saying his son had been released from detention 48 hours later.


Abuses

Rights groups say that Israel routinely detains Palestinian children.

"Israeli forces arrest children regardless of their age or gender," Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, an NGO, told Anadolu Agency.

"But according to international law, everyone under the age of 18 is considered a child," he said.

Fares said several cases of children under seven years old being detained by Israeli forces had been documented over the past two decades.

"This represents a violation of international conventions and a clear disregard for the UN charter [for human rights]," he said. "The world must take a firm stand against Israeli crimes against our children, who are being abused daily by the Israeli occupation."

The detention of Palestinian children dominated headlines this week after Israeli soldiers arrested a teenage boy in the West Bank during a protest against a U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.

Fawzi al-Juneidi, 16, was detained last week during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron and dragged away blindfolded by Israeli soldiers.

The photo of the blindfolded child has since become a symbol of ongoing Palestinian protests against Washington’s Jerusalem policy.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners Society, around 100 Palestinian children have been detained by Israeli forces since U.S. President Donald Trump made the announcement last week.


‘Systematic’

Palestinian rights groups say the vast majority of detained children are subjected to psychological or physical abuse while in custody.

"Around 90 percent of arrested children are subjected to verbal abuse and humiliation by Israeli army officers," Ayed Abu Qtaish of the Defense for Palestinian Children rights group told Anadolu Agency.

He added that 82 percent of detained children were stripped naked for searches, while 30 percent were subjected to physical abuse while in custody.

According to Abu Qtaish, over 75 percent of detained children were denied access to legal advice before being interrogated.

"These are not isolated incidents, but rather standard practice by the Israeli army," he said. "The Israeli occupation pursues this systematic policy with the express purpose of intimidating Palestinian children."

Amjad Abu Assab, head of the Jerusalem Committee for Families of Prisoners, said Israeli forces had detained 19 children in overnight raids since last week.

"Each of these detained children suffered either rubber bullet injuries or tear gas inhalation or had been beaten by Israeli forces while in custody," he said.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners Society, roughly 300 children continue to be held in detention facilities across Israel.

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