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Rise in Palestinian children held by Israel "alarming"

By       Message Jonathan Cook       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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Reprinted from Jonathan Cook Blog

Between 500 and 700 Palestinian children are prosecuted in Israel's military courts each year, says rights group

Israeli troops attack Palestine kids.
Israeli troops attack Palestine kids.
(Image by Pure Pranks, Channel: Pure Pranks)
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A jabbing pain in his shoulder and thigh roused Obada from his sleep at 3am. In the half-light, the 15-year-old could make out eight masked men surrounding his bed, their rifles pointed at him.

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"I felt terrified," he said of the experience of being arrested in February from his home in the village of al-Araqa, near Jenin in the northern West Bank.

Obada is one of more than 100 Palestinian children who, in recent months, have found themselves dragged from bed at gunpoint in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, according to children's right groups.

Testimonies like Obada's feature in a new report, No Way to Treat a Child, compiled by Defence for Children International -- Palestine (DCIP), a group monitoring Israeli violations of Palestinian children's rights.

The 440 children currently in military detention are the highest total since the Israeli army started issuing figures in 2008 -- and more than double the number detained this time last year.

The rights group says that, despite promises two years ago from the Israeli army to phase out night raids following international condemnation, in practice they are used as routinely as ever.

During his arrest, Obada said he was hit with a rifle butt, blindfolded and his hands tied with a plastic cord that cut into his flesh. "The soldiers dragged me out of the house without allowing me to say goodbye to my family and without telling me why and where they were taking me," he said.

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Over the next fortnight, according to Obada, he was repeatedly beaten. Indignities included being locked overnight in a small toilet cubicle and assaulted with a taser when he protested.

For 12 days, his only break from solitary confinement was to be taken from his cell to an interrogation room where he was tied tightly to a chair, slapped and threatened.

He was repeatedly questioned about his ties to two school friends, Nihad and Fuad Waked, who had been killed a few days earlier during an attack on soldiers.

Physically assaulted

Obada's account of his arrest and detention accord with a pattern of abuse similar to other children's testimonies, said Ivan Karakashian of DCIP.

Three-quarters of children reported being physically assaulted during their detention. In nearly 90 percent of cases, parents had no idea where their child had been taken, and in 97 percent of interrogations, no parent or lawyer was allowed to be present.

Some 60 percent of children were then transferred to prisons in Israel, in violation of international law, where, typically, they waited three months for their first family visit, as relatives struggled to get entry permits to Israel.

Such abuses contrast strongly with the rights guaranteed to children both in Israel and in Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

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