RAMALLAH, November 10, 2015 (WAFA) – Minister Issa Qaraqe, chairman of the Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, said on Tuesday that Israel uses physical force, and physiological pressure to extract confessions from minor Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israeli jails.
Qaraqe’s statement came a day after a video footage circulating online, showed Israeli interrogators shouting at the top of their lungs at 13-year-old Ahmad Manasrah, who allegedly took part in a stabbing attempt against Israelis in Jerusalem last October, 2015.
The video showed clips of the interrogation of Manasrah, during which Israeli investigators verbally abused him and called him a liar as they questioned him about the incident and his motives.
Manasrah appeared bursting into tears during interrogation, as he swore that he is telling the truth and that he doesn’t remember anything. it showed him begging the investigator to believe him, while crying in despair.
Manasra was then seen crying and agreeing to confess to the accusations brought against him, stating that he is willing to confess to their claims just because he saw himself in the video, whilst at the same time he affirmed that he would confess even though he does not remember anything.
Qaraqe said the video serves as indisputable evidence that can convict the Israeli government and its investigators for their practices that violate the Geneva Conventions, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and relevant international laws.
The video should also be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for immediate investigation on crimes against minor prisoners, Qaraqe added.
He said almost 95% of Palestinian minors in Israeli jails are forced into confession to stop further physiological and physical abuse at the hands of investigators during investigations.
Manasra was also seen in a previous video that went viral, as he laid helplessly on the ground with a head wound – with settlers terrorizing, and assaulting him, while shouting ‘Die’, after being attacked and run over by Israeli police for his alleged partaking in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem.
Manasra was later admitted into hospital, where he was reportedly severally maltreated by Israeli guards.
Heba Masalha, an attorney with the Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs (CPA), reported on a sworn affidavit submitted by 14, year-old Ahmad Manasra, where he told the story of the excruciating experience he endured at the hands of Israeli police and settlers, and even by an Israeli civilian; whom Manasra reported was allowed into his hospital room by Israeli police guards, and reportedly verbally assaulted him using extreme profanities against him and wished him dead.
Manasra said that he was subjected to long hours of interrogation – with investigators assaulting him – while still on his hospital bed, which he said further aggravated his excruciating pain.
Since the beginning of unrest in early October 2015, more than 1,000 minor Palestinians were detained by Israeli authorities, Qaraqe added.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a Tuesday statement that it had called on all Palestinian embassies and representative offices worldwide to share the video of Manasrah with all decision-making quarters, in order to unveil the Israeli crimes committed against minors.
To be noted, Israel is the only state to systematically prosecute children in military courts that lack basic standards of due process. Addameer human rights group says most of the detained children report being subjected to ill-treatment and having confessions extracted from them during interrogations.
Forms of ill-treatment used by Israeli soldiers include slapping, beating, kicking, violent pushing, threats and even sexual assault.
A study conducted by Defense for Children International (DCI) in the occupied Palestine territories showed that Palestinian children in Israeli prisons are being subjected to torture, sleep deprivation and are repeatedly blindfolded.
DCI reported that, “In 21.4% of cases, Israeli military, police and security agents held children in solitary confinement for an average of 10 days for interrogation purposes.”
In 96% of cases documented by DCI-Palestine in 2013, children were questioned alone and rarely informed of their rights, particularly their right against self-incrimination.
DCI stated, “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. More than one in five of the 2013 cases, children signed statements in Hebrew, a language they do not understand.”
DCI reported that, “Military detention is a reality for hundreds of Palestinian children each year, exposing them to physical and psychological violence, interrupting education, contributing to mental health issues, and placing large numbers of families under stress. This continued to be the case in 2014.”