[Pnews] Israel’s war on innocence: Palestinian children in Israeli military courts

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Aug 7 11:30:26 EDT 2019


  Israel’s war on innocence: Palestinian children in Israeli military courts

Ramzy Baroud - August 7, 2019

On 29 July, 4-year-old Muhammad Rabi’ Elayyan was reportedly summoned 
<http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=8syrm9a111106693467a8syrm9> for 
interrogation by the Israeli police in occupied Jerusalem. The news, 
originally reported by the official Palestinian news agency, /WAFA/, was 
later denied 
by the Israeli police, more than likely in an attempt to lessen the 
impact of the PR disaster that followed.

The Israelis are not denying the story in its entirety, but are rather 
arguing that it was not the boy, Muhammad, who was summoned, but his 
father. It was Rabi’ Elayyan, they claim, who was called into the 
Israeli police station in Salah Eddin Street in Jerusalem to be 
questioned regarding his son’s actions.

The child was accused of hurling a stone at Israeli occupation soldiers 
in the Issawiyeh neighbourhood, which is a constant target for Israeli 
violence. The neighbourhood has also been the tragic location of house 
under the pretext that Palestinians there are building without permits. 
Of course, the vast majority of Palestinian applications for such 
permits to build in Issawiyeh, or anywhere else in Jerusalem, are denied 
routinely, while Jewish settlers are allowed to build on stolen 
Palestinian land unhindered.

*READ: Israel summons 8-year-old Palestinian girl for interrogation 

As such, Issawiyeh is no stranger to the ridiculous and unlawful 
behaviour of the Israeli army. On 6 July, for example, a mother from the 
beleaguered neighbourhood was arrested in order to put pressure on her 
teenage son, Mahmoud Ebeid, to turn himself in. The mother “was taken by 
Israeli police as a bargaining chip,” /Mondoweiss/ reported 
<https://mondoweiss.net/2019/07/occupied-issawiya-palestinian/>, quoting 
the Jerusalem-based Wadi Hileh Information Centre.

The Israeli authorities are justified in feeling embarrassed by the 
whole episode concerning the 4-year-old boy, thus the attempt to poke 
holes in the story. The fact is, though, that /WAFA’s/ correspondent in 
Jerusalem had, indeed, verified that the warrant was in Muhammad’s, not 
Rabi’s, name.

While some news sources bought into the Israeli propaganda, and readily 
the cries of “fake news”, one must bear in mind that this was hardly a 
one-off incident. For Palestinians, such news about the detention, 
beating and killing of their children has been one of the most 
consistent features of the Israeli occupation since 1967.

Just one day after Muhammad was summoned, the Israeli authorities also 
the father of a 6-year-old child, Qais Firas Obaid, from the same 
neighbourhood of Issawiyeh. This particular boy was accused of throwing 
a juice carton at Israeli soldiers.

“According to local sources in Issawiyeh the [Israeli] military sent 
Qais’s family an official summons to come to the interrogation centre in 
Jerusalem on Wednesday [31 July] at 8 am,” reported the /International 
Middle East Media Centre/ (/IMEMC/). In one photo 
<https://twitter.com/manuelferdiez/status/1156832640663805953>, the 
little boy is holding the Israeli military order written in Hebrew up to 
the camera.

The stories of Muhammad and Qais are the norm, not the exception. 
According to the prisoners’ advocacy group, Addameer, there are 
currently 250 Palestinian children being held in Israel’s prisons. 
Approximately 700 Palestinian children are taken through the Israeli 
military court system every single year. “The most common charge levied 
against children is throwing stones,” reports Addameer, “a crime that is 
punishable under military law by up to 20 years in prison.”

That is why Israel has every right to be embarrassed. Since the start of 
the Second Intifada in 2000, some 12,000 Palestinian children have been 
detained and interrogated by the Israeli army.

*READ: Israel summons father of 6-year-old Palestinian child who ‘threw 
carton’ at soldiers 

Moreover, it is not only children and their families who are targeted by 
the Israeli military, but also those who advocate on their behalf. Just 
last week, on 30 July, Palestinian lawyer Tariq Barghouth was sentenced 
<http://www.arabnews.com/node/1533246/middle-east> to 13 years in prison 
by an Israeli military court for “firing at Israeli buses and at 
security forces on a number of occasions.”

As unlikely as the accusation of a well-known lawyer firing at “buses” 
may sound, it is important to note that Barghouth is well-regarded for 
his defence of Palestinian children in court. He has also been a 
headache for the Israeli military court system for his strong defence of 
Ahmad Manasra. The then 13-year-old boy was tried and indicted in 
Israeli military court for allegedly stabbing and wounding two Israelis 
near the illegal Jewish settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev in Occupied Jerusalem 
in 2015. Manasra’s cousin, Hassan, 15 was killed on the spot, while the 
wounded Ahmad was tried in court as an adult. It was Barghouth who 
challenged and denounced the Israeli court for the harsh interrogation 
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrOLafEiPto> and for secretly filming 
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNPQC6qpLes> the wounded child as he 
was tied to his hospital bed.

Palestinians take part in a protest to show solidarity with Palestinian 
children who have been arrested and held by Israeli forces [Mahfouz Abu 

On 2 August 2016, Israel passed a law that allows 
the authorities to “imprison a minor convicted of serious crimes such as 
murder, attempted murder or manslaughter even if he or she is under the 
age of 14.” The law was crafted conveniently to deal with cases like 
that of Ahmad Manasra, who was sentenced on 7 November the same year, 
three months after the law was approved, to 12 years in prison.

Manasra’s case, the leaked videos of his abuse by Israeli interrogators 
and his harsh sentence placed more international focus on the plight of 
Palestinian children in the Israeli military court system. “Israeli 
interrogators are seen relying on verbal abuse, intimidation and threats 
to apparently inflict mental suffering for the purpose of obtaining a 
confession,” attorney and international advocacy officer at Defence for 
Children — Palestine, Brad Parker, said 
<https://mondoweiss.net/2015/11/interrogation-palestinian-torture/> at 
the time.

*Killing Tariq: Why We Must Rethink the Roots of Jewish Settlers 

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Israel has been a 
signatory since 1991, “prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman or 
degrading treatment or punishment.” Yet, explains Parker, “Ill treatment 
and torture of Palestinian children arrested by Israeli military and 
police is widespread and systematic.”

So systematic, in fact, that videos and reports of arresting very young 
Palestinian children are almost a staple on social media platforms 
concerned with Palestine and Palestinian rights.

The sad reality is that Muhammad Elayyan, 4, and Qais Obaid, 6, and many 
children like them, have become a target of Israeli soldiers and Jewish 
throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This horrendous reality 
must not be tolerated by the international community.

Israeli crimes against Palestinian children must be confronted 
effectively for the simple reason that Israel, its inhumane laws and 
iniquitous military courts must not be allowed to continue their 
uncontested brutalisation of those who are, at the end of the day, 
children. Israel’s war on their innocence must be stopped.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not 
necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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