Noor O. Alyacoubi
The Israeli occupation forces arrest dozens of Palestinians per day; men, women, elderlies, and without doubt, children and minors to make them spend the worst days of their lives. According to the Detainees and Ex-detainees Affairs Commission, 1300 Palestinian children were detained in 2021, an increase of 140% compared with the previous year. They are distributed to three prisons: Ofer prison in southern West Bank, Majdo prison in northern West Bank, and Damon prison in Al-Quds.
The Zionist authorities practice diverse forms of torture, oppression and medical negligence against the children in the prisons. They force them to admit their participation in resistance acts and intifada marches, and deliberately put them in cells with killers, mafias, rapists and addicted, endangering their lives. They also intend to exploit the children's weaknesses and give them fake promises in order to make them confess committing crimes that threaten the security of the Israeli community, convincing them if they admitted, that would relieve their sentences.
Even though many international laws condemned the detention of children and emphasized their human rights despite religion or nationality, the Israeli occupation insists on depriving them from their right of having a fair trial, contacting their families, and being treated in a human manner as well as preventing their families from knowing where their children are detained. They are kept in inhuman cells, where they suffer from bad food, lack of hygiene, spread of insects, absence of ventilation and lightening, and non-availability of entertainment. Moreover, they are banned from meeting specialists and psychiatrists.
The Israeli government practices the policy of racial discrimination against the Palestinian children. While they consider the Israeli child as the one that is less than 18 years, they consider the Palestinian child as the one that is no more than 16 years. Also, it is the only state in the world that prosecutes children in military courts, noting that it prosecutes 500-700 children per year, most of whom for allegedly throwing stones.
Moreover, the Israeli occupation authorities take the prisoners' issue as a lasting source of income, as they sentence the children to long years in prisons along with high fines ranged between 1000-6000 NIS. That, of course, burdens their families in light of the deteriorating economic conditions in the Palestinian lands.
In contrary, we can notice the double standards policy in this matter; they deal the colonial settlers in a completely different way. For example, after the settler Ben David, who burned the Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khudair (15), had filed a petition against his sentence to life imprisonment, the occupation courts reduced the sentence to 21 years in prisons.
Athal Al-Azza, a 14-Palestinian child from Bethlehem: he was arrested while he was on his way to his grandfather's house. "One of the soldiers wrapped me around my neck and was choking me so hard. I felt faint and started to lose consciousness," he remembers. When he woke up, they punched him in the back, stomach, face and everywhere, and then handcuffed him and took him to prison.
"I was the youngest in the prison. I thought I will never be free again. I started to think of all the things I was going to miss; I thought of my family, my school, my friends, and my music classes. I felt like my dreams were ending," Athal said.
He also stated that when he was arrested, he was taken into an interrogation room and was yelled. "They demanded me to confess to throwing stones and burning tires," he said. "When I said I didn't do this, the interrogator got mad yelled at me more, hit me harder."
Athal is a player of violin, which he never stopped playing but during the two weeks he spent in prison.
Hussein Obaid, 17, from Al-Quds: he was arrested by a big troop of the Israeli occupation and police. "I was hardly beaten while I was in my bed. They beat and then blindfolded and handcuffed me," Obaid told his attorney.
He also said that "during the interrogation, he was tortured and beaten in his head several times."
Those testimonies only give a hint to the hundreds or thousands of children in the occupation prisons, who suffer every day from the Israeli occupation's barbarism and discrimination.