The Israeli occupation is escalating its attacks on Palestinian children and youth amid the growing intifada, including the Justice Ministry’s new draft law, seeking to imprison Palestinian children from the age of 12.
This proposed law comes amid a raft of repressive laws promulgated by the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian population living under colonization and occupation, including the planned imposition of new minimum sentences of three years imprisonment for stone-throwing at occupation settlers and soldiers. Sentences of up to twenty years have been discussed.
All of these charges and convictions would of course, take place in Israeli military courts, which convict 99.74% of the Palestinians brought before them. While the law’s proponents have stated that its provisions apply only for “murder, attempted murder or manslaughter,” it should be noted that the use of such charges, in particular “attempted murder,” in Israeli military courts is quite broad. One such example is the case of the Hares Boys, five Palestinians – minors when arrested and charged – accused of “attempted murder” on the basis of a settler car accident that occurred near their village. (The Hares Boys were, after a series of mass arrests in their village, accused of throwing stones at the settler road, despite a complete lack of evidence, and then charged with 25 counts of “attempted murder.”)
A child of twelve convicted in Israeli military court would be imprisoned in a “closed treatment facility” administered by the occupation authorities and then be turned to a regular prison to serve their sentence. Ayelet Shaked, the far-right extremist Justice Minister of the Netanyahu government, has referred to Palestinian children as “little snakes,” stating that the “entire Palestinian people is the enemy,” and said:
“They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes.”
Well over 320 Palestinian children under 18 are imprisoned in Israeli jails, many of whom are accused of “stone-throwing.” 122 children have been arrested so far in November, following the arrest of 177 in October; there are also now 12 children held in administrative detention without charge or trial. Administrative detention is often used when there is no evidence at all to support even the most general charges of stone-throwing or posting so-called “incitement” on social media.
The Palestinian minors held under administrative detention are: Fadi Abbasi, Mohammed Gheith, and Kazem Sbeih – all from Jerusalem, which Eyad Abu Eqtaish of Defence for Children International Palestine noted was “unprecedented” – and now nine more from the West Bank: Huzaifa Jabarin, Mahmoud Abu Ali, Ashraf Zaid, Mahmoud Shweiki, Jamal Daray, Nasim Huwarin, Abdelghani Hamad, Majed Al-Saadi and Adnan Al-Azayzeh. Riyad Al-Ashqar of the Prisoners’ Center for Studies noted that Palestinian minors had not been held under administrative detention in the past eight years, noting that this is an escalation in the intensity of Israeli attacks on Palestinian children.
In this context, the video of the screaming, abusive interrogation of 13-year-old Palestinian prisoner Ahmad Manasra, without parents or a lawyer, by Israeli occupation forces, was leaked:
Manasra’s 15-year-old cousin was shot dead and he was severely wounded by Israeli occupation soldiers; following his shooting he was surrounded by settlers who denied him access to medical care and shouted profanity and abuse at him, after he and his cousin were accused of participating in a stabbing. The shooting and abuse was also captured on video.
17 Palestinian minors have been killed by Israeli occupation forces since 1 October, including a baby killed by tear gas.
Families and fellow prisoners in Ofer prison have reported that the children’s area in the prison is overcrowded due to the ongoing arrests in the past two months and that 49 of the prisoners newly arrived were severely ill, injured with live bullets, or had been severely beaten by Israeli forces prior to coming to the prison. The child prisoners also have no access to blankets or other needs inside the prison.
Palestinian children are under attack.
1. Contact your government officials and demand an end to international silence and complicity with the attacks on Palestinian children. In Canada, Call the office of the new Foreign Minister, Stéphane Dion, at 613-996-5789 and demand an end to Canadian support for Israel and justice for Palestinian children, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. In the US, call the White House (202-456-1111) and the US State Department (202-647-9572); raise your concern about the treatment of Palestinian children and demand an end to US aid to Israel. In the EU, contact your MEP – you can find your MEP here, or use the tool at http://freepalestine.eu/ to both call for an end to the EU-Israel Association Agreement and highlight the abuse of Palestinian children.
2. Protest at the Israeli consulate or embassy in your area. This is a time of uprising and intifada – protests are happening around the world and are more urgent than ever. see our list of actions here: http://samidoun.net/2015/10/take-action-rise-up-with-palestine-global-protest-actions/ Hold a community event or discussion, or include this issue in your next event about Palestine and social justice. Please email us at email@example.com to inform us of your action – we will publicize and share news with the prisoners.
3. Boycott, Divest and Sanction. Hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. Don’t buy Israeli goods, and campaign to end investments in corporations that profit from the occupation. G4S, a global security corporation, is heavily involved in providing services to Israeli prisons that jail Palestinian political prisoners – there is a global call to boycott it. Palestinian political prisoners have issued a specific call urging action on G4S. Learn more about BDS at bdsmovement.net.