[News] "Confined Cruelty", Israeli Treatment of Palestinian Minors

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Mar 28 14:45:12 EDT 2012


"Confined Cruelty", Israeli Treatment of Palestinian Minors

Published on Wednesday, 28 March 2012 09:02
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php/opinion/1217-confined-cruelty-israeli-treatment-of-palestinian-minors 


By Graham Peebles

They shoot children don't They

The innocence of childhood is a precious jewel, 
to be gently cared for and nurtured, allowing the 
child, whose future we are building, to develop 
happily and safely in an atmosphere of love and 
peace. For many Palestinian children their 
childhood is lived under a cloak of fear, and the 
threat of violence and abuse at the hands of an 
armed force that stalks the streets of their homeland.

In the eleven years since 2000 Israeli forces 
have killed "1,471" children in the West Bank and 
Gaza Strip, the bulk of which are aged between 13 
and 17 years old. The children of Gaza have been 
and continue to be at greatest risk, with almost 
a thousand murdered in the last twelve years, on 
the streets of their city, on their way to and 
from school, whilst playing with friends, 
shopping for their family or simply relaxing in 
their homes. Most are shot randomly, 
indiscriminately, or killed as a result of 
Israeli air and ground attacks. Around 50 were 
taken prematurely from their families by unexploded ordnance.

This latest attack on the people of Gaza began on 
Friday 9th March, "killing 25 Palestinians." The 
Israeli air force fired missiles from the comfort 
of their warplanes at civilians in an arbitrary 
way, shooting onto the streets of Gaza and into 
peoples homes, "in the Jabaliya refugee camp that 
were mostly full of women and children," (PM) The 
faceless attackers even shot at mourners 
attending a funeral. Such is the callous, vicious 
nature of the Israeli security forces that kills, 
injures and intimidates innocent women and 
children, destroying all hope of living peaceful 
decent lives, and all in the name of 'security'. 
Nonsense, this is criminal violence nothing more 
or less. These most recent atrocities come on the 
back of the massacre that took place in December 
'08/January'09, when a total of "1417" (IOAK) 
Palestinians were murdered, of which '318" (IOAK) 
were children and 116 women. Fresh in the 
children's young memories lie the echo of that 
horrendous time, the constant bombardment, the 
loss of loved ones, and the shootings. In 
addition to the deaths around 1000 children were 
injured in the three-week assault, many children 
were left with severe physical disabilities and 
deep psychological wounds. The mental/emotional 
effects more difficult to see and or to treat 
than broken bones and scared flesh. "The Gaza 
Community Health Programme estimates that half 
Gaza's children – around 350,000 – will develop 
some form of post-traumatic stress disorder." 
This is staggering but unsurprising, and the 
attacks this March on unarmed civilians, will 
serve to intensify the mental suffering and 
anguish that these children are living with, 
"both parents and psychologist fear that Gaza 
children could be affected psychologically in the long run." (OP)

Children make up around 45% of the four million 
or so total Palestinian population – a fact that 
terrifies an aging Israel. And what impact does 
living under the brutal Israeli occupation have 
on them, are they inclined towards peace and 
brotherhood, is tolerance fostered in their 
hearts and minds or are the seeds of hate and the 
desire for revenge being carefully sown. Does 
violence ever bring peace, or perpetuate 
conflict. Violence we see begets not harmony but 
further violence. Colonel Travers, "we spoke to a 
psychiatrist in Gaza," who said, "We already see 
in our schools in Gaza the next generation of 
Hamas revolutionaries, children exposed to so 
much violence, they have no option but to 
terminate their childhood and move into a 
different frame, and the likelihood is that they 
will never stabilize."(Ibid) In order to justify 
the un justifiable, the unjust Israel needs to 
instil hate into another generation of 
Palestinians - to maintain their (Israel's) 
position as the 'enemy within', thereby excusing 
in some perverted distortion of the facts, their 
continued aggression, violence and violation of 
international laws, too many to count.

Intimidation and Torture

Palestinian children living in the West Bank and 
the Gaza strip under the illegal Israeli 
occupation are subjected to brutal treatment, 
illegal imprisonment, torture and intimidation by 
the Israeli security forces. Defence for Children 
International states "a pattern of systematic 
ill-treatment [of Palestinian children] emerges, 
[from their report 'Bound, Blindfolded and 
Convicted'] much of which amounts to cruel, 
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as 
defined in the UN Convention against Torture, and 
in some cases, torture – both of which are 
absolutely prohibited." Since 1967 Palestinian 
children as well as adults have been subjected to 
Israeli Military Law, a legal system based on 
prejudice and short on justice. In the time since 
this emergence system was instigated 726,000 
Palestinians have been arrested and detained. The 
numbers of children arrested and taken from their 
homes is shocking. "In the past 11 years alone, 
around 7,500 children, some as young as 12 years, 
are estimated to have been detained, 
interrogated, and imprisoned within this 'system. 
This averages out at between 500-700 children per 
year, or nearly two children, each and every 
day." (BBCC) Mostly the arrested children live in 
villages in areas of tension, "friction points, 
namely settlements built in violation of 
international law, and roads used by the Israeli 
army or settlers." (Ibid) The situation seems to 
be escalating particularly in certain areas of 
the West bank. "The extreme Golani Unit of the 
Israeli military is escalating its arrests of 
Palestinian children in Al Khalil (Hebron), 
targeting boys between the ages of 12 to15 years 
old with at least 10 reported cases of child 
arrests made (in early February 2012) just in the span of one week."

As well arrests, incarceration in solitary 
confinement has also increased, with almost a 
quarter of all children arrested being held in 
isolation. Children, mainly boys, aged from 12 to 
17 years old are forcefully taken from their 
family, often at night, imprisoned in a tiny, 
dank cell, illegally beaten and tortured, 
intimidated and on occasion subjected to 
electronic shock treatment. Most children are 
detained for the terrible crime of throwing 
stones at soldiers armed with M16 rifles and tear 
gas, all courtesy of the American arms industry.

Like 15-year-old Yahia, who, with four friends 
was arrested and taken to the [illegal] Israeli 
settlement of Zuffin, where there "hands tied 
behind their backs, they were blindfolded, before 
being forced to kneel on the ground for several 
hours." (BBCC)The inevitable insults then began 
to rein down on the children. "After about two 
and a half hours the boys were loaded into a 
truck and transported to a police 
station.........the boys were 
interrogated.........the interrogator grabbed the 
boys head and slammed it against the wall, 
slapping him twice, a short time later he 
returned holding a small electric shock device 
[Taser]. 'He placed the device on my body and I 
felt a great powerful shock and my body started 
shivering'. This shock treatment continued until 
'I couldn't feel my arms or legs and I felt 
extreme pain in my head. I felt I was going to be 
paralysed, so I decided to confess"(BBCC) In 
another example of torturous abuse at the hands 
of the Israelis, there is 16-year-old Mohammad 
Shabrawi from the West Bank town of Tulkarm, 
arrested in January 2001, again accused of 
throwing stones. His ordeal mirrors in part that 
of Yahia - taken to a settlement, his hands tied 
and being forced blindfolded to kneel on the 
asphalt for an hour or so, before being taken to 
"Cell 36, deep within Al Jalame prison in 
northern Israel." Reports The Guardian. "It is 
one of a handful of cells where Palestinian 
children are locked in solitary confinement for 
days or even weeks. One 16-year-old claimed that 
he had been kept in Cell 36 for 65 days." (Ibid) 
Mohammad spent "17 days in solitary, apart from 
interrogations. He first saw a lawyer 20 days 
after his arrest, he said, and was charged after 
25 day" And the effect of this terrible ordeal on 
the boy, "Since his release, he said, he was "now 
afraid of the army, afraid of being arrested." 
His mother said he had become withdrawn." (Ibid)

The use of hand ties and blindfolds is extensive, 
in 2010 the UN documented 90 cases of "ill 
treatment" of Palestinian children in Israeli 
detention, and of which 75 had their hands tied 
behind their backs and were also blindfolded. 
Almost a third of children were under 15 years of 
age. Of the 90 detained "62 children reported 
being beaten, 35 children reported position abuse 
and 16 children were kept in solitary 
confinement. In three cases, children reported 
the use of electric shocks on their bodies. 
Particularly concerning was the fact that there 
was an increase in documented cases of sexual 
violence" (UNDOPI) All of this contravenes 
international law and conventions signed and 
ratified by Israel and the democratic principles 
Israel so loudly proclaims. Mark Regev, the chief 
Israeli purveyor of propaganda and deceit, and 
Spokesman for Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu 
in The Guardian, "The test of a democracy is how 
you treat people incarcerated, people in jail, 
and especially so with minors."(TG) Democracy 
damned by words of duplicity. Much of the 
mistreatment exercised towards Palestinian 
children not only contravenes international law, 
but also violates Israel's own domestic laws.

When in Israeli custody children are violently 
interrogated; they are shackled, blindfolded and 
bound to a chair whilst being questioned. 
According to Israeli Law, "Interrogation of a 
minor may be conducted only by an interrogator 
who is trained as a youth interrogator. A parent 
is allowed to be present at all times," 
and"Minors have the right to consult with the 
parent before the interrogation." (BTSR) They are 
verbally insulted "You're a dog; a son of a whore 
is common. Many are exhausted from sleep 
deprivation. Day after day they are fettered to 
the chair, and then returned to solitary 
confinement." (TG) Eventually the majority of 
children sign confessions that they later state 
were coerced, "Children under interrogation 
unsurprisingly eventually admit to the 'crimes', 
DCI "in the end at least 90 percent will plead 
guilty, as this is the quickest way out of a 
system that denies children bail in 87 percent of 
cases."(BBCC) Accusations of crimes justifying 
these illegal detentions are commonly, throwing 
stones, or occasionally Molotov cocktails at 
soldiers or settlers – both of whom let us 
remember, are illegally present upon Palestinian 
land. A few are arrested for "more serious 
offences such as links to militant organisations 
or using weapons."States the Guardian

Major violation Minor insecurity

And what 'National security information' is being 
elicited from the interrogation of these 
children, who the Israelis are abusing? "They are 
pumped for information about the activities and 
sympathies of their classmates, relatives and 
neighbours." (TG)) Within walls of intimidation a 
child can be forced to betray their friends, 
families and eliciting the names of other stone 
throwers is a primary aim of the torturer. 
B'Tselem "One method the police use to identify 
juvenile stone throwers is incrimination: the 
police arrest one or more youths, they are 
required to give names of other youths whom they 
saw throwing stones, and these youths are then 
arrested and required to provide the names of 
others, and so on."(BTSR) The children under 
interrogation in a frightening isolated place, 
far from the sanctity of home, are under great 
emotional stress and inevitably give up the names 
of friends, the experience then compounded by the added trauma of guilt.

Children are mostly held inside Israel itself, 
which restricts access to legal support and 
excludes family members from visiting, their 
freedom of movement is constrained under the 
occupation, the necessary permit to visit the 
prisons is often impossible to obtain. Families 
are therefore unable to support their children 
through the ordeal of confinement. Holding 
children in prisons inside Israel is in violation 
of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, 
which prohibits such transfers. According to DCI, 
"testimonies [from 310 children] reveal that the 
majority of children are taken away to an unknown 
location for interrogation."(BBCC) This process 
of arrests, detention and torture operating 
inside Israel and outside international and 
national law, offers the victims no legal 
recourse, DCI ("there is a general absence of 
effective complaint mechanisms." (Ibid)

Legally binding Illegally bound

The Israeli judicial system as it currently 
pertains to Palestinian children, allows illegal 
practices to take place within the walled 
settlements –themselves illegal, inside police 
stations and Israeli prisons. International law 
on the rights of the child, to which Israel is 
bound, is clear and extensive "The main document 
establishing the rights of children is the 
Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by 
the UN in November 1989. Israel signed the 
Convention in July 1990 and ratified it in August 
1991."(BTSR) In the Optional Protocol to the 
Convention on the Rights of the Child on the 
involvement of children in armed conflict, we 
find "Condemning the targeting of children in 
situations of armed conflict and direct attacks 
on objects protected under international law, 
including places that generally have a 
significant presence of children, such as schools 
and hospitals." Schools are repeatedly targeted 
by Israeli security forces, according to the UN 
in 2010 there was an increase in the number of 
attacks on education institutions. "The UN 
continues its findings, "these attacks resulted 
in damage to schools or interruption of 
education, placing the safety of the children in 
Gaza and the West Bank at risk. The majority of 
cases involved the presence of Israeli security 
forces within school compounds following raids, 
forceful entry, and search and arrest operations, 
including the use of tear gas on students." 
(UNDOPI) All international treaties and 
conventions signed by the lawbreaker, Israel, 
safeguard children in conflict, and Israel 
ignores them all, DCI "These treaties relevantly 
provide that: in all actions concerning children 
their best interests shall be a primary 
consideration; children should only be detained 
as a measure of last resort and for the shortest 
appropriate period of time;" (BBCC) Held for '17 
days in solitary' as Mohammed was, is neither 
short nor appropriate, indeed it is illegal. It 
is one example within a catalogue of atrocities 
that sees Israel contravening another convention, 
breaking yet another international law and doing 
so with impunity. This must stop, urgent action 
is required to safeguard the children of 
Palestine and protect them from the tyranny that 
is Israeli policy in the OPT's.

In order to fuel what is a raging furnace of 
legal standards raging around Israel, let us add 
The Fourth Geneva Convention, which "grants 
special protections to minors" (IOAK) and 
provides 146 articles that protect in law the 
lives of all Palestinians living under the 
illegal Israeli occupation. Israel is in breach 
of them all. Indeed 'grave breaches', which in 
itself constitutes war crimes, "the world has 
seen those [grave breaches] inflicted every day 
by Israel against the Palestinian People living 
in occupied Palestine: e.g., wilful killing of 
Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army and 
Israel's illegal paramilitary settlers." (Ibid) 
Israel is guilty of 'grave breaches' of the 
convention and the more serious offense of 
'Crimes Against Humanity' against Palestinians 
"as determined by the U.N. Human Rights 
Commission" (Ibid), which is the "legal precursor 
to the international crime of genocide as defined 
by the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and 
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide." (Ibid) The 
argument that Israel is or has in fact already 
committed the crime of genocide, is powerful and to many indisputable.

Genocide, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, crimes 
against humanity; titles that all fit Israel 
bespoke. Call it what you will, the actions of 
Israel in the OPT are vile, murderous, calculated 
and illegal. It is for the international 
community acting in unity, and led by the UN to 
finally stand up and act to protect the lives of 
the innocent men, women and children of 
Palestine, lifting the shadow of constant fear, 
intimidation and aggression from their lives. 
Humanity is one. Together we must stand in the 
face of injustice, violence and hate to safeguard 
the lives of the innocent, the oppressed the defenceless.

1- If only Americans Knew. (IOAK) 
http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/dec08.html

2- The Palestine monitor (PM) 13th March 2012 
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/?p=4401

3- Occupied Palestine (OP) 17th March 2012 
http://occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/memories-of-violence-haunt-gaza-children/

4 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_Palestinian_territories 
- UN_estimates_.5B14.5D

5- Mondoweiss. 
http://mondoweiss.net/2011/07/col-travers-israels-treatment-of-palestinian-children-shows-that-it-does-not-seek-peace.html

6 Defence for Children International report, 
bound-blindfolded-and-convicted-children-held-military-detention-2012 
(BBCC) 
http://www.dci-palestine.org/documents/new-dci-report-bound-blindfolded-and-convicted-children-held-military-detention-2012

7- International Solidarity Movement. 
http://palsolidarity.org/2012/02/hebron-at-least-10-children-arrested-by-israeli-military-in-one-week/

8- The Guardian (TG) The Palestinian children – 
alone and bewildered – in Israel's Al Jalame jail 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/22/palestinian-children-detained-jail-israel

9- United Nations Developments in the Occupied 
Palestinian Territory and Israel (UNDOPI)

http://www.un.org/children/conflict/english/palestine.html

10- B'TSELEM report No Minor Matter: Violation of 
the Rights of Palestinian Minors Arrested by 
Israel on Suspicion of Stone-Throwing (BTSR) 
http://www.btselem.org/publications/fulltext/201107_no_minor_matter

11- OHCHR Optional Protocol to the Convention on 
the Rights of the Child on the involvement of 
children in armed conflict http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc-conflict.htm



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