An escalating number of Palestinian children are being held in solitary confinement or detained without charge or trial under administrative detention. 16 Palestinian children have been detained without charge or trial under administrative detention since October 2015, reported Defense for Children International on 28 July.
DCI highlighted the case of Abdel-Rahman Kamil, 15, of Qabatiya in Jenin, arrested in February of this year. He was interrogated in the Salem military camp near Jenin without being allowed to consult a lawyer, and asked about alleged intentions to stab a soldier, throwing stones at invading Israeli occupation forces, or knowing young men from his town who participated in Palestinian resistance activities. Despite denying all of this, he was ordered to a six month administrative detention order without charge or trial on the basis of secret evidence. Despite a court reducing the order to four months, his administrative detention was then again renewed for an additional four months in June. He was one of seven children whose administrative detention orders were renewed in the month of June.
DCI also reported that “from January through June, Israeli authorities held at least 13 Palestinian children in solitary confinement for two or more days, compared to a total of 15 cases during 2015.” One 16-year-old boy from Yabad near Jenin spent 22 days in isolation. DCI noted that “the use of isolation for Palestinian child detainees is solely for interrogation purposes to obtain a confession and/or gather intelligence or information on other individuals.”
They highlighted the case of Rami K., 18, who was held in solitary confinement for 16 days for interrogation purposes. He reported that he was interrogated for 45 hours over a period of days, and that his hands and feet were bound to a metal chair during interrogation in stress positions. Rami is currently serving a 10 month prison sentence and a 3000 NIS fine ($780). He will spend another three months in prison if his family cannot pay.
The Israeli occupation prosecutes nearly 700 Palestinian children each year in military courts, alongside its use of administrative detention against Palestinian child prisoners. Two debates have been held in the British parliament on Palestinian children in Israeli military custody in 2016, while 20 members of the U.S. Congress urged President Obama to appoint a “special envoy for Palestinian youth,” to address issues relating to the human rights of Palestinian children and youth. Meanwhile, the Israeli state is escalating laws used to punish and imprison Palestinian children.
As DCI notes:
“The amendments to the Israeli penal code in 2015 included stricter penalties in mandatory sentencing laws such as a maximum 10 year sentence for throwing a stone, or other object, at traffic, without intent to cause injury, and 20 years for throwing a stone, or other object, at traffic with intent to cause injury. While the 20-year maximum sentencing existed prior to 2015, the word “stone” was added to specifically target Palestinian society.
Minimum penalties for stone-throwing offenses, one-fifth of the maximum penalty, were also added to the penal code. In a controversial decision, the Knesset, or Israeli parliament, added to the scope of punishment the denial of National Insurance benefits to families whose members have been convicted of throwing stones.
According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), proposals are also in the works to impose life sentencing for children under the age of 14.”