Minor Palestinian Prisoners Subjected to Systematic Torture in Israeli Jails

RAMALLAH, January 19, 2015 (WAFA) – A lawyer of the Detainees and Ex-detainees Affairs Committee reported that Palestinian minor prisoners incarcerated in Israeli jails are subjected to physical torture during their arrest and interrogation as well as in detention.

The lawyer, Hiba Masalha, following a visit to minor prisoners detained in Israeli Hasharon and Majdo prisons, reported testimonies of several minor inmates who said that they have been subjected to torture and physical abuse during their arrest, in detention and throughout their interrogation course.

Reporting on one of the cases, the  lawyer said that 17-year-old prisoner Rami Barakat from Jerusalem testified that he was struck on his head and neck by a number of Israeli soldiers during his arrest almost three months ago when an Israeli force brutally raided his home.

He recalled the incident when soldiers tied his hands and feet and threw him inside their military jeep, where they stepped on him with their boots.

In a similar case, resident of al-Issayiyeh 15-year-old Hamza Shaloudi testified that he was severally beaten by Israeli soldiers during his arrest at the end of the year 2014. He said that soldiers hit him on his face and back with the butts of their rifles and assaulted him with their hands and heavy boots throughout his body.

He said that he was also forced to strip search in Hasharon Prison.

As for 17-year-old Hamdi Khashaneh, the minor prisoners testified that he was brutally beat up by soldiers during his arrest; soldiers hit him with the butts of their rifles on his head and ears and throughout his body, causing him to lose the ability to hear for days. He was also forced to undergo multiple strip searches.

The lawyer affirmed that a large number of minor prisoners are subjected to similar daily maltreatment and torture. She called for an urgent international intervention to put an end to the Israeli measures against prisoners and hold perpetrators accountable.

“By the end of January 2014, it was reported that a total of 183 Palestinian children were prosecuted and detained in the Israeli court system, a rise of 18.8% over the month. The figure includes twenty children between the ages of 14 and 15,” reported the Middle East Monitor in a story.

It said that 75% of Palestinian children imprisoned in Israeli jails in the occupied West Bank were physically assaulted during interrogation and detention.

A study conducted by Defence 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.”

“Despite international condemnation and awareness of Israel’s widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian child prisoners, there have been no practical steps taken to curb violations,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCI-Palestine. “The international community must demand justice and accountability.”

Israel is the only state to automatically and systematically prosecute children in military courts that lack basic standards of due process.

“Around 500 – 700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12, are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system each year. The majority of Palestinian child detainees are charged with throwing stones. No Israeli children come into contact with the military court system,” said DCI.

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.”