Palestinian Child Prisoners: How the Israeli military criminalises a generation
A UK speaking-tour organised by Action for Palestinian Children in conjunction with DCI-Palestine
Ayed Abu Eqtaish, DCI-Palestine
Mohammed Abu al Reesh
Every year around 700 Palestinian children between 12 and 17 are abducted and jailed by the Israeli military according to UNICEF. They are usually accused of throwing stones at vehicles of the forces of occupation – a crime punishable under Israeli military law by up to 20 years in prison.
Arrests take place during violent night raids when the child is forcibly removed from the family home, shackled, hooded and taken to a detention centre. Usually they are strip-searched and appear in military court in leg shackles. Bail is virtually never granted, children may be held on remand for months, and in solitary confinement for weeks. No lawyers or family members are present at interrogations, which often include threats of death, sexual threats and physical violence. When children eventually appear before the military court practically all have signed confessions – in Hebrew, which they don’t understand – knowing this is the only way to get an earlier release. The conviction rate is an astonishing 97% and a custodial sentence is imposed in 90% of the cases. They end up with a criminal record, harming their chances of obtaining travel and other permits in the future.
The disruption to education and the long-term psychological effects of these experiences are devastating.