[Pnews] Palestinian Children describe torture in Israeli solitary confinement
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon May 12 18:59:36 EDT 2014
Children describe torture in Israeli solitary confinement
Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Mon, 05/12/2014
A rising proportion of Palestinian children arrested by Israeli
occupation forces are subjected to solitary confinement, harsh
interrogations and ill-treatment amounting to torture, according to a
published today by Defence for Children International-Palestine Section
"In 21.4 percent of cases recorded by DCI-Palestine in 2013, children
detained in the Israeli military detention system reported undergoing
solitary confinement as part of the interrogation process. This
represents an increase of two percent from 2012," a press release
accompanying the report states.
DCI-Palestine collected 98 sworn affidavits from Palestinian children
aged 12 to 17 in 2013. The disturbing findings in the report are based
on 40 solitary confinement cases documented in 2013.
In the vast majority of cases (34 out of 40), children are arrested from
their beds. "Children report that heavily armed Israeli soldiers arrest
them in violent circumstances during night raids on their family homes,"
the report says.
The children "are often woken up by the sound of Israeli soldiers
banging on the front door before a family member opens the door or the
soldiers force their way in, storming the home."
Then, the occupation soldiers "gather all the occupants of the house,
regardless of their age, in one room or outside and then demand
identification. Generally, the entire home will be searched during the
raid. Once a child's identity has been verified from his identification
card, his family will be informed that he must accompany the soldiers."
Children or their parents are almost never informed of the accusations
and, the report says, this moment "is most likely the last time the
family will see their child until he appears in a military court
following an unknown period of solitary confinement and interrogation."
"Once the soldiers have identified the child, his hands will be tied
with plastic cords, most likely behind his back, and he will be
blindfolded and led to a military vehicle."
More than half of the children reported some form of physical violence
during the arrest and transfer to interrogation facilities, including
Petah Tikva <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/petah-tikva> detention
center, Kishon detention center (also known as Al-Jalame
near Haifa, or Shikma prison near Ashkelon.
These facilities are under control of the Israel Prison Service
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/israel-prison-service> and/or the
Shin Bet <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/shin-bet> secret police.
Al-Jalame is among several Israeli facilities equipped
by the international incarceration profiteering firm G4S
On average, children spent 10 days in solitary confinement, but children
have been held for up to 29 days in isolation. Children held at Kishon
described being locked in a small, windowless cell lit 24 hours a day by
a dim bulb.
There they slept on a concrete bed, on the floor, or on a thin mattress
they often described as "dirty" and "foul smelling." Cell walls are grey
"with sharp or rough protrusions that are painful to lean against."
While being deprived of legal counsel, family contact and almost never
being informed of their rights, including the right to remain silent,
children are subjected to prolonged interrogations, abuse and violence
amounting to torture.
Most children are accused of stone-throwing, "an offense that can
potentially lead to a sentence of up to 20 years depending on a child's
age." But the accusation may be a pretext to coerce children into
providing information useful in Israel's effort to suppress any form of
resistance to occupation.
"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,"
DCI-Palestine states. "Shouting and intimidation are regularly used to
elicit confessions, incriminating statements, and information on
neighbors or family members."
During interrogations, "children report being forced to sit in a low
metal chair secured to the floor with their hands and feet cuffed to the
chair, often for several hours." In 31 out of 40 cases, children
reported being subjected to such "position abuse," the most frequent
form being that the child is shackled to a chair in a painful position
for long periods of time.
Role of informants
After experiencing horrifying abuses and days of solitary confinement,
children are psychologically vulnerable. Israeli interrogators take
advantage of this by the use of informants. DCI-Palestine describes the
technique Israel uses, based on the children's accounts:
Following many days held in isolation and subject to prolonged
interrogation sessions, a child will be informed that the
interrogation is over and that they will be transferred to a prison
Once the child arrives in a typical prison cell, an adult prisoner
warmly welcomes him, often bringing warm food, a pack of cigarettes,
or other items. The adult prisoner attempts to gain the child's
trust by sharing information about the child's family or members of
his community. Children report being warned not to talk to anyone
but this specific individual regarding their interrogation. Often,
the adult prisoner will either ask a child about the interrogation
and what questions were asked, or offer to alert others on the
outside if he shares information.
After a day or two, the child is ushered back to interrogation where
he is often confronted with an audio recording or statements he made
to the adult prisoner informant. During interrogation, the child
realizes for the first time that the adult prisoner is an informant
collaborating with Israeli intelligence officers, and the child's
interaction with this individual was part of the interrogation process.
After being confronted with this reality, children generally provide
a confession without access to counsel to allegations made against
them during the interrogation.
DCI-Palestine's report was submitted to a number of UN bodies and
includes an analysis of how Israel's mistreatment of children and
increasing use of solitary confinement amount to grave violations of
international law, including conventions on torture.
"The practice of using solitary confinement on children in Israeli
detention facilities must be recognized as a form of torture and be
stopped immediately," the report states.
But it also notes the total impunity
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/impunity> that has ensured that
Israel's abuses have continued unchecked.
During 2013, DCI-Palestine reports that it filed 15 complaints with
Israeli authorities concerning ill-treatment and torture of ten children
while in Israeli military detention.
But, the report states, "not a single indictment has been issued against
a perpetrator, and in many cases it is unclear if an investigation has
The latest report from DCI-Palestine adds to a mountain of evidence
about Israel's systematic abuse and killings of Palestinian children,
including earlier reports from DCI-Palestine
Human Rights Watch
and Amnesty International
Last December, the advocacy group the Public Committee Against Torture
in Israel (PCATI)
revealed that Israeli authorities had locked Palestinian children in
outdoor cages during a severe winter storm
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