[Pnews] Born A Target: The Arrest and Prosecution of Jerusalem's Palestinian Children

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Apr 24 10:35:04 EDT 2018


  Born A Target: The Arrest and Prosecution of Jerusalem's Palestinian

22 April 2018

*Introduction *

On December 6^th , 2017, the President of the United States declared 
Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. As part of this statement, he 
confirmed that “Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every 
other sovereign nation to determine its own capital.” Such a declaration 
stands in stark contrast to the status of Jerusalem’s Palestinian 

As of 2018, over 323,700 Palestinian residents live in occupied East 
Jerusalem, although some estimated that numbers are actually higher. [1] 
<#_ftn1> Due to Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, 
Palestinians are solely subject to the Israeli Municipal authority and 
Israeli civil law despite their legal status of protected persons under 
international law.

In response to a wave of protests and unrest beginning in October 2015, 
which was primarily emanating from East Jerusalem, the Israeli 
authorities escalated their constant attempts to suppress the population 
into a concerted campaign of arrest and imprisonment that, for the most 
part, has continued to this day. The year 2017 saw a total of 1,138[2] 
<#_ftn2> arrests of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem. This figure 
represents around 17% of total arrests for the entire Palestinian 
population for the same year. When the fact that the Palestinian 
Jerusalem population only represents around 6%[3] <#_ftn3> of the total 
Palestinian population of the occupied territory, it is safe to say that 
Jerusalemite children are experiencing a concentrated campaign of arrest.

This factsheet will provide the details surrounding the Israeli 
escalation of its policies of arrest and detainment of children in East 
Jerusalem from December 2016 until  February 2018, including the legal 
status of Jerusalemites, the laws they are subject to, and the effects 
this has on childhood development.

*The Jerusalem context *

Following the beginning of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 
1967, Israel /de facto/ annexed around 70,000 dunums (27 square miles) 
from East Jerusalem and its surrounding villages by including them 
within the borders of the unilaterally established Jerusalem 
Municipality. By doing so, the 68,600 Palestinians living in these areas 
were, in contravention of IHL, brought under the direct rule of Israeli 
law.[4] <#_ftn4> This illegal annexation was formalized into Israeli 
basic law in 1980 with an act of the Israeli Parliament.[5] <#_ftn5>

In practice, this annexation has meant that the Palestinians of 
Jerusalem have been stuck between two worlds. While under occupation 
officially in regard to international law, they have been governed 
directly by Israeli authorities.[6] <#_ftn6>

What this has meant for them is that while in theory they have the same 
legal protections in the civil legal system as an Israeli citizen, the 
reality is often startlingly different. In stark contrast to the rights 
of a ‘citizen’, Jerusalemite Palestinians face substantial, state-based 
discrimination. The key discriminatory policies are residency 
revocation, discriminatory planning regime, house demolition, inadequate 
allocation of municipality resources, and high rates of arrest and 
detainment.[7] <#_ftn7>

According to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 
(OCHA), these discriminatory policies in East Jerusalem create a 
coercive environment, which can, and does, lead to forced displacement. 
[8] <#_ftn8>

Despite the fact that Jerusalemites are ‘permanent residents’, 14,595 
Palestinians have had their residency status revoked in the period from 
1967 to the end of 2016.[9] <#_ftn9> The reasons are mostly connected to 
the inability to prove that their ‘center of life’ is based in Jerusalem 
and, more recently, as a punitive measure for individuals, and their 
family members, who have been convicted of ‘nationalistic’ crimes or 
‘breaches of loyalty’.[10] <#_ftn10>

As for house demolitions, the most recent data is from 2017, with 142 
structures (around 23% of which were inhabited houses) demolished in 
East Jerusalem.[11] <#_ftn11> The majority of these demolitions were due 
to a lack of building permit, which takes years to be issued if at all 
due to a discriminatory system of allocation[12] <#_ftn12>, but a number 
of them were punitive. From July 2014 till March 2017, six homes were 
demolished punitively.[13] <#_ftn13>

Due to a deliberate poor and discriminatory allocation of resources, the 
educational situation of Palestinian children of East Jerusalem remains 
grim.[14] <#_ftn14> The combination a poverty rate of 86% and a shortage 
of around 2,000 classrooms[15] <#_ftn15> means that the potential of 
large sectors of the juvenile population will go unrealized within a 
system that is already systematically discriminatory based on ethnicity.

*Israel’s Obligations under International Law*

As an occupied people, Palestinians as a group hold the status of 
protected persons under International Humanitarian Law (IHL). This means 
that the primary law, which is to govern the conduct of the occupying 
power in regard to the protected persons, is international humanitarian 
law. According to the International Court of Justice’s 2004 Advisory 
Opinion on the Wall, human rights law is additionally applicable in 
regard to the conduct of Israel toward the protected populace.[16] <#_ftn16>

That said, the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 is rather bare in regard 
to the specific needs of child members of the occupied population. 
Besides general statements concerning food and medicine, the primary 
prescription comes in Article 38(5) “Children under fifteen years […] 
shall benefit by any preferential treatment to the same extent as the 
nationals of the State concerned.” Taking into account the insight of 
the Commentary of 1958, published by the International Committee of the 
Red Cross, this essentially means that children under 15 years are to be 
afforded preferential treatment in essentially all regards.[17] <#_ftn17>

The primary body of laws protecting children comes from human rights 
law, with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) being 
particularly pertinent. Beginning with the International Covenant on 
Civil and Political Rights, Article 10(3) calls for special measures of 
protection and assistance for all children, meaning any individual under 
the age of 18.

The CRC elaborates such protections further. In Article 3, the principle 
of the best interest of the child is emphasized. The article stresses 
that, “in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public 
or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative 
authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall 
be the primary consideration.”[18] <#_ftn18>

According to General Commentary 14 (2013) of the Committee on the Rights 
of the Child, this means that there is an “obligation to ensure that all 
judicial and administrative decisions as well as policies and 
legislation concerning children demonstrate that the child’s best 
interests have been a primary consideration.”[19] <#_ftn19>

Finally, in regard to child prisoners, Article 27(b) of CRC is of the 
utmost importance. It states that, ”[n]o child shall be deprived of his 
or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily.”[20] <#_ftn20> The article 
further emphasizes that in the case of arrest, “the arrest, detention or 
imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be 
used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate 
period of time”.[21] <#_ftn21>

Thus, in regard to IHL and human rights law, children are to be treated 
in an exceptional manner in keeping with their exceptional 
vulnerabilities. They are to be provided with the upmost support in 
regard to material needs and are to be kept out of situations that may 
be detrimental to their social, psychological, educational and physical 

*Israeli Law*

For the most part, Israeli domestic legislation meets the required 
threshold in regard to taking the best interest of the child into 
account. As such, the majority of the violations of international law 
comes in the law’s inequitable and discriminatory application. As for 
military law, the system of law that governs the West Bank and a number 
of ‘security cases’ from Jerusalem, it, as a system, is in violation of 
international standards in both law and practice.

The Youth Code, or ‘The Youth (Judiciary, Punishment, and Methods of 
Treatment) Law, 5731-1971, is the primary piece of legislation that 
governs interactions between the police, judiciary, and children in 
Israeli civil courts. The Youth Law explicitly aims at the 
rehabilitation of violators and seeks to limit imprisonment. Article 
10(a) of the law states, “[i]t will not be decided to detain a minor if 
the purpose of detention can be achieved in a manner that does not 
violate their freedom”. Additionally, the same article seeks to take 
age, and potential effect of detention into account. More broadly, the 
law restricts the use of physical restraints, places restrictions on the 
interrogation of minors at night, allowing access to family members, the 
right to speak to an attorney, and the right to have a family member 
present during interrogation.[22] <#_ftn22> That said, the investigating 
officer can choose to not contact a parent prior to interrogation if 
there is a reasonable belief that doing so would delay the 
investigation, or if a reasonable attempt has been made to contact a 
relevant adult.[23] <#_ftn23> All these provisions are, broadly, in 
keeping with international law, and the requirement to take the child’s 
best interests into account.

An addition to the Youth Code, which is not in keeping with 
international law, came in response to the wave of unrest beginning in 
October 2015. On August 2^nd , 2016, under Amendment 22, the criminal 
age of liability for acts such as murder, attempted murder, or 
manslaughter was lowered to 12. As part of the law, sentences will be 
deferred until the age of 14.

*The Project *

In collaboration with Terre des Hommes Italy (TDH It), Addameer is 
documenting and providing legal support to Palestinian children of East 
Jerusalem. With the aim of ensuring the proper educational outcomes for 
all children in East Jerusalem, TDH Italy is committed to provide novel 
ways to ensure that children who entered in contact with the Israeli 
juvenile justice system receive tailored educational support, with the 
aim of ensuring access to their right to education and promoting 
advocacy work towards the mistreatment of children.

The joint effort of TDH Italy, through its Mobile Team, and Addameer, 
through a dedicate lawyer, allowed the identification of 54 arrested 
children in the timeframe May 2016 - February 2018.

*Detainment, Interrogation and Sentencing*

Based on the collection of information by Addameer’s dedicated lawyer, 
additional documentation staff, and the consultation of additional 
resources, patterns and trends have become clear in regard to the 
detainment of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem. It is safe to say 
that the average experience of a Jerusalemite child under arrest is one 
of humiliation, intimidation, and the denial of their basic rights.

Children are either arrested from the homes, in the early hours of the 
morning, or from the street in the afternoon. Then they are either taken 
to the interrogation facility in the Russian Compound, known as 
al-Mascobiyya, or they are taken to a police station in Jerusalem.

A.Z, a 17-year-old child from al-Issawiya, who has been arrested 6 
different times since he was 14, recalls his latest arrest in 2017. He 
said that “soldiers broke into our home at 4:00 am, they searched the 
home, handcuffed me and carried me to the jeep, which then drove me to 

A.H. recalls that during her arrest, “one of them [the police] hit me on 
my chest; the blow caused internal bleeding.” She was later denied 
adequate medical treatment for her injuries, with prison guards giving 
her medicine in the water without her knowledge.

Interrogations often begin without parents being aware of their child’s 
whereabouts and, occasionally, even that they have been arrested. These 
interrogation sessions are conducted without a parent, guardian, or 
attorney being present, leaving the children completely in the hands of 
their arrestor. Interrogations can last for hours, and, contrary to 
domestic and international legislation, involve physical and 
psychological abuse. The most common abuses observed in the cases 
documented were slapping, and verbal threats to the child or their 
family members.

M. A., a 16-year-old from al-Issawiya who was arrested from his home in 
the early hours of July 19^th , 2017, recounted that the Israeli 
occupying forces began questioning him during the arrest and prior to 
his arrival at Oz police station. His interrogation lasted a total of 
three days, and it ended only when he agreed to sign a confession 
written in Hebrew, a language he does not understand, without the 
presence of a lawyer. During the interrogation, he was beaten and 
verbally abused by three officers. He remained handcuffed for the 
majority of the three days.

Of his interrogation, he said:

/They put me under a lot of pressure, they said they would cancel my 
Jerusalem identity card and issue an order for the demolition of my 
family’s house […]. one of them told me that if I worked with them, I 
would make it all easier for myself./

After the signing of a confession, the legal proceedings lack 
substantial safeguards and fail to uphold child protection. Prior to 
2015, the application of the Israeli Youth Law for Palestinian children 
was largely in keeping with international law. Children arrested for 
throwing stones were often released without receiving a report from the 
Juvenile Discipline officer, as stipulated in article 10(a) of the Youth 
Code. This radically changed after October 2015, with children being 
held in prison while awaiting the report for around 20-25 days. Since 
then, the majority of Palestinian children have been sentenced to prison 
time, house arrest, or community service for such offences.

D. A., is a 17-year-old child who was arrested after being summoned to 
al-Mascobiyya interrogation Center on August 3^rd , 2016. Prior to 
sentencing, he was held for a period of 2 months rather than being 
released during the court proceedings. He was subsequently convicted of 
throwing stones. His family was fined USD $1,400, and he was sentenced 
to 9 months of home detention. He lost a year of schooling due to his 

The trauma of being taken from your house in the middle of the night, to 
be abused and yelled at by a group of police officers is an experience 
that would rattle an adult. The effects on a child are extremely 
detrimental to their overall wellbeing and development. A large number 
of ex-child detainees visited as part of the project drop of school (48% 
of the visited children) or substantially worsened in their school 
performance. When interviewed, the majority of them report experiencing 
feelings of disorientation, frustration, anxiety, and fear, which often 
negatively affect the family life.

K.S. had already missed 5 months of school when he was allowed to go 
back to school with the accompaniment of his mother. He eventually 
stopped going to school both because he was too lost in class and 
because he was embarrassed to be dropped off and picked up by his mother.

His mother observed that, “He has been feeling anxious, confused and 
'without direction' ever since the day he was arrested, I think they 
want to destroy the boy.”


While formally the Israeli domestic law is in keeping with the 
international legal framework, there is a large gap between law and 
practice. In this gap is where the Jerusalemite children find themselves.

*Addameer calls on the international community, and UN human rights 
bodies, to use all diplomatic and legal means to pressure Israel to end 
its violations against Palestinian children in East Jerusalem. 
Additionally, competent UN and diplomatic channels should be activated 
in order to ensure accountability for Israel’s violations of 
international humanitarian law and international human rights law. *

*Additionally, we call on civil society to mobilize in support of East 
Jerusalem’s children. Contact your political representatives, organize a 
protest, or engage in information campaigns to ensure that Israel’s 
violations of the right*


[1] <#_ftnref1> 

[2] <#_ftnref2> Addameer’s Figures on Child Arrests in Jerusalem 2017

[3] <#_ftnref3> ‘Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) and 
National Population Committee: The International Population Day 
11/07/2017’, /Palestinian Central Bureau for Statistics/. 2017: 

[4] <#_ftnref4> Depending on which ID they hold, a factor primarily 
determined by place of birth, Palestinians in the occupied territory are 
governed by two different systems of law. Those with a West Bank ID are 
governed by Palestinian Authority law, in regard to civil matters, and 
by Israeli military law, in regard to all interactions with the 
occupation or the ‘security’ of the occupying force. Palestinians with 
Jerusalem IDs are governed by Israeli civil law, despite the fact that 
they do not hold the status of citizens. That said, the occupying power, 
Israel, frequently applies military law to Jerusalem ID holders in 
instances that they determine to be ‘security’ cases.

[5] <#_ftnref5>‘Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel’, /The Knesset/, 
30 July 1980, https://www.knesset.gov.il/laws/special/eng/basic10_eng.htm.

[6] <#_ftnref6> For more information, consult Addameer’s legal analysis 
on the topic of Jerusalem: 

[7] <#_ftnref7> ‘Israel: Jerusalem Palestinians Stripped of Status’, 
/Human Rights Watch/, 2017: 

[8] <#_ftnref8> ‘Fragmented Lives’, /Office for Coordination of 
Humanitarian Affairs, /13 June 2016, 

[9] <#_ftnref9> ‘Israel: Jerusalem Palestinians Stripped of Status’, 
/Human Rights Watch/

[10] <#_ftnref10> ‘Israel passes law to strip residency of Jerusalem’s 
Palestinians’, /Al Jazeera English, /7 March 2018, 

[11] <#_ftnref11> 

[12] <#_ftnref12> 
and http://bimkom.org/eng/wp-content/uploads/TrappedbyPlanning.pdf

[13] <#_ftnref13> ‘East Jerusalem: Facts and Figures 2017’

[14] <#_ftnref14> ‘Arab Students in Jerusalem Get Less Than Half the 
Funding of Jewish Counterparts’, /Haaretz, /23 August 2016, 

Since January 2016, the Israeli MoE started putting conditions on any 
school-support provided based on the use of the Israeli curriculum. This 
policy has been reaffirmed and strengthened in May 2017, when the 
Israeli Cabinet approved a five-year plan to gradually increase the 
number of students using the Israeli curriculum from 1st grade through 
building 105 new classes, providing schools which adopt the Israeli 
curriculum with financial incentives to cover extra teaching hours, 
extra-curricular activities and students’ education portfolios and 
establishing technology/arts tracks within secondary schools which adopt 
the /baghrout/ instead of the /Injaz/ (previous /tawjihi/) matriculation 
exam. Israel's Education Ministry to Pay East Jerusalem Schools to 
'Israelize' Curriculum, Haaretz, 29 January 2016, 
and Cabinet Approves Plan to Expand Israeli Curriculum in Arab East 
Jerusalem Schools, Haaretz, 29 May 2017, 
For an analysis of the five-years plan: 

[15] <#_ftnref15> ממדי העוני והפערים החברתיים"’, /Israeli Ministry of 
Insurance/, 2015: 
‘East Jerusalem: Facts and Figures 2017’

[16] <#_ftnref16> ‘Legal Consequence of the Construction of a Wall in 
the Occupied Palestinian Territory’, /The International Court of 
Justice/, 9 July 2004: 

[17] <#_ftnref17> /Commentary: IV Geneva Convention Relative to the 
Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War/, Jean S. Pictet (Ed.), 
(Geneva: International Committee of the Red Cross, 1958), p. 248.

[18] <#_ftnref18>’Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989’, 

[19] <#_ftnref19> ‘General Commentary No.14 (2013)’ /Committee on the 
Rights of the Child/, 2013: 

[20] <#_ftnref20>’Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989’, 

[21] <#_ftnref21>Ibid.

[22] <#_ftnref22> ‘חוק הנוער )שפיטה, ענישה ודרכי טיפול), תשל"א-1971’, 

[23] <#_ftnref23> Ibid.

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