Palestinian Women and Children in Jewish gulags

Reham Alhelsi

April 17, 2010
On a beautiful March day, I was on the way to school in Jerusalem when the bus I was in was stopped at Ras Il-Amoud. The soldiers got into the bus, told everyone to get out and told the bus driver to turn and go back from where it came. Some passengers started arguing with the soldiers, explaining they had jobs or classes to go to, but the soldiers didn’t want to know about that and started shouting and beating those present with their clubs, including me. We were school children and were not a threat to armed soldiers, nevertheless a number of us were arrested for daring to tell the soldiers to stop beating us. We were handcuffed and loaded into military jeeps. On the way, we were forced to bend our heads down the whole trip and the only thing I could see were the boats of the soldiers. When the jeep finally stopped, we were ordered by the soldiers to step down and as I looked around me I realized we were in a military camp. The soldiers told us then to stand in a certain place, turn our backs to them and kneel on the ground. We were still handcuffed. Opposite me I could see the mountains of Jerusalem and I realized we were in the Abu-Dees military camp which occupied one of the hills. We weren’t allowed to sit but half kneel which was very painful. And as we half-knelt there, near each other but not able to talk to each other, the soldiers started throwing small stones at us. They were laughing and talking in Hebrew while throwing the stones. I didn’t understand what they were talking about, but I figured they were betting who would hit which one of us and where. I don’t remember how long this “game” lasted, but I remember how painful the kneeling was, how painful the stones were when they hit my head and how I wondered what would happen to us, what they would to us here alone in this military camp with no Palestinian around. Every now and then I would talk a quick peep at the hills in front of us and I would think about my parents and what they were doing. We tried comforting each other silently by touching our feet. We didn’t talk for we weren’t allowed to do that, but whenever someone near me touched my foot with theirs, it was like telling me: don’t worry, we’ll get through this, and I would return the gesture. After seemingly long hours, maybe in the afternoon, we were loaded back into the jeeps, ordered to lower our heads again and a new journey started. When this second journey ended, we were in one of the detention centres. The soldiers separated us from each other and I was taken to a small room where one female soldier searched me thoroughly several times. Then another male soldier came and took me to another room and told me to keep standing the whole time and if I sit I will be punished and that they will be watching me. While waiting I could hear shouting and a boy crying a room nearby. They were interrogating him and I knew my turn would be next. That day, I was a school pupil on my way to school, I got beaten by armed Israeli soldiers, was used as a “target” in their games and ended up in a detention centre. I was a child, a little girl, and was surrounded and beaten by no less that 5 or 6 fully armed soldiers to be then detained for “attacking the soldiers”. It didn’t matter that I was a child, it didn’t matter that I was a girl, to the Israeli soldiers I am a Palestinian, thus beating me and detaining me for no reason is allowed. This is not an isolated case. Palestinian women and children are detained on almost a daily basis, and are physically and physiologically abused. They are beaten, humiliated and tortured during arrest, interrogation and detention. Their families are also harassed and sometimes other family members are arrested as well to extract a confession from the detainee. Palestinian children are interrogated by Israeli soldiers without the presence of a lawyer or a family member and later stand trial like adults. Families are often not allowed to see their children before or after trial.

Since 1967, Israel detained over 700,000 Palestinians including tens of thousands of children. Since the outbreak of Al-Aqsa Intifada in 09.2000, more than 8000 Palestinian children have been detained, of whom 337 are still in Israeli detention. According to “Defence for Children International/Palestine Section (DCI/PS)”, around 700 Palestinian children are detained yearly in Israeli jails. Of the over 8500 Palestinians currently detained in Israeli jails, at least 400 were children at the time of their arrest. Palestinian children are arrested from their homes, from schools, while playing in the streets or at checkpoints. They are blindfolded, shackled and taken into detention centers where they are separated from others. They are beaten, threatened and abused by the soldiers and interrogators, are not allowed to see a lawyer or a family member and are forced into singing papers in Hebrew which they don’t know. These children are prosecuted as adults in two military courts and by military officers who act both the prosecutor and the judge. Many of the children detained are subjected to administrative detention which means detention without charges or any trial. Children who are charged often get harsh sentences for throwing stones such as 12 or 14 years, often without evidence or on false testimonies from the soldiers. These children are denied their basic rights and face abuse and violations such as torture and solitary confinement. Like adults, they are subjected physical abuse, threats, sleep deprivation, are blindfolded and have their hands and feet handcuffed, isolated, tortured with cigarette stings and razor blade cuts, shackled, receive freezing and boiling baths, have bags placed on their heads and tiny plastic bullets shot at them. They are locked up in over-crowded rooms, are deprived of edible food, drinkable water and many are deprived of their visitation rights and phone calls. Children also suffer from medical negligence and bad nutrition. At least 60 sick children suffer from medical negligence in Israeli detention.

In February 2010, and alone in Hebron, 80 children were detained. In March 2010 more than 330 Palestinian children were detained by the IOF. Some of those detained are:
16.03.2010: Mohammad Ata, 17 yrs, from Bilin, Ramallah. Abdel Qader Al-Qadi from Jerusalem.
17.03.2010: Shadi Za’loul, 17 yrs from Husan. Ibrahim Awad, 17 yrs from Beit Ummar.
18.03.2010: Ahmad Hamayel 16 yrs, Walid Hamayel 16 yrs, Maher Hamayel 17 yrs from Beita
19.03.2010: Mohammad Abu Mezar, 15 yrs from Hebron. Bilal Al-Shobaky, 14 yrs and Walid Al-Wawi, 16 yrs from Al-Fawwar refugee camp, Hebron. Mohammad Ali, 16 yrs from Qalandia refugee camp, Jerusalem.
20.03.2010: Mu’tasim Mizhir, 17 yrs from Qalandia refugee camp, Jerusalem.
23.03.2010: Suhad Al-‘Iwewi, 13 yrs from Hebron.
24.03.2010: Basil Al-Darabe’, 15 yrs from Dura, Hebron. Mahmoud Ma’rouf, 17 yrs and Shadi Ma’rouf from Gaza.
26.03.2010: Mohammad Hamdan, 9 yrs, Amer Abu Haniyeh, 9 yrs from Hebron. Mohammad Jaafar, 18 yrs from Jenin.
20.03.2010: a boy from Jerusalem 16 yrs, Abdel Rahim Zeidan, 16 yrs from Deir Istia, Nablus.

One recent incident is that of Mohammad Al-Qunbar, a 14 year old from Jerusalem. On 15.03.2010 Mohammad was first hit by a police car, then beaten by the occupation police and detained despite his injury. The Israeli occupation police first claimed that Mohammad was hit by an “Arab” car, but pictures taken during the incident proved otherwise. Later, the boy testified he was threatened by investigators in the Maskubiyyeh with prison in case he revealed that he was hit by a police car. Mohammad said that an Israeli car came towards him and his friend, hit him the first time, turned and hit him a second time. Then those inside the car came out, arrested him and started beating him in the car while he was crying.

Children are also arrested during midnight raids. In recent years, mass arrests of Palestinian children have been reported. On 10.02.2010, and during a nightly military raid on Al-Jalazoun refugee camp in Ramallah, 19 children were detained from their homes. These were beaten and harassed and the families report that the IOF used excessive force during the arrests. The children were then taken to a detention centre and interrogated without the presence of a lawyer or any family member. According to the “Defence for Children International/Palestine Section (DCI/PS)” five of them were aged 14, seven were aged 15, four were aged 16 and three were aged 17. At least seven of them (aged 15 or less) were transferred to jails inside Israel which is in addition to the illegally of detaining children another violation of international law. During another similar midnight raid, this time in Silwan in Jerusalem, several Palestinian children aged 12 to 15 were detained. These were taken from their beds, handcuffed and transported to interrogation cells in the Maskubiyyeh and their parents were not allowed to accompany them. The children later testified that they were threatened and beaten during the interrogation. Similar midnight raids with mass arrests of children occurred in Tura Al-Gharbiyyeh on 19.01.2009, Azzun on 14.07.2009 and in Haris on 26.03.2009 where over 90 children were detained, beaten and threatened.

According to the Defence for Children International/Palestine Section (DCI/PS):[1]
90 Day: the period of time a Palestinian detainee, including a child, can be denied access to a lawyer and held in incommunicado detention (Military Order 378)
20 Years: the maximum sentence that can be imposed on a Palestinian, including a child, for throwing stones (Military Order 378)
188 Day: the length of time a Palestinian detainee, including a child, can be held in detention without charge (Military Order 378)
2 Years: the period of time a Palestinian detainee, including a child, can be held between indictment and trial.

Since 1967 more than 12,000 Palestinian women were detained by the Zionist entity. During the First Intifada 3000 women were detained and during Al-Aqsa Intifada more than 900 women were locked up behind Israeli bars. Currently, there are 35 Palestinian women detainees in the Israeli prisons Damon and HaSharon: among them 3 administrative detainees, 8 await trial, 23 sentenced of whom 5 are serving life sentences. Palestinian female detainees, like their brothers in detention, suffer from the brutality of the Israeli Prison Authority. They are punished for the slightest thing with isolation, are beaten, harassed, tied up for hours under hot sun or under rain, deprived of sleep, their rooms raided at night, continuously denied family visits and calls back home and letters are sent and brought only once every 3 months. Water is very dirty and food is inedible, thus the detainees are forced to buy their food and water from the prison canteen for very high prices. Some political prisoners are also locked up with Israeli criminals who abuse them. Their cells are over-crowded, damp, lack hygiene and are infested with insects.

The detainees are also denied appropriate and much needed medical treatment and most medications are expired; 13 detainees are in need of medical treatment. Amal Faiz Jum’a from Askar refugee camp suffers from womb cancer while Raja’ Al-Ghoul from Jenin refugee camp suffers from heart and blood pressure diseases and both don’t get the need treatment. Female detainees are only allowed to see a general doctor and no specialists, and some were forced to give birth while hand and leg cuffed such as Mirvat Taha and Manal Ghanim. Currently, there are at least 6 Palestinian mothers in detention. Others have their husbands or their brothers in Israeli detention as well, but are not allowed to visit them. Abir Odeh for example has 3 brothers in Israeli detention and Fatin Al-Shafi’ Al-Sa’di has a brother in jail.

Palestinian female prisoners currently in Israeli detention:
1 Amna Jawad Ali Muna, detained since 19.01.2001 (life sentence)
2 Abeer Isa Atef Amro, detained since 22.02.2001
3 Iman Mohammad Hasan Ghazzawi, detained since 03.08.2001, mother of 2 (13 yrs)
4 Ahlam Aref Shihadeh At-Tamimi, detained since 14.09.2001 (13 life sentence and 20 yrs)
5 Ibtisam Abdel-Hafith Faiz Issawi, detained since 04.11.2001, mother of 6 (15 yrs)
6 Lina Ahmad Saleh Jarbuni, detained since 18.04.2002
7 Sana’ Mohammad Husein Shehadeh, detained since 24.05.2002 (3 times life sentences)
8 Qahira Said As-Sa’di, detained since 30.05.2002, mother of 4 (3 times life sentence and 30 yrs)
9 Ireena Buli Shuk Sarhan, detained since 22.05.2002, mother of 2 (life sentence)
10 Du’a’ Ziad Jamil Al-Jayyousi, detained since 07.06.2002 (3 times life sentence and 30 years)
11 Warda Abbas Abdel-Fattah Baqrawi, 16.10.2002
12 Latifa Mohammad Mahmoud Abu Dira’, detained since 08.12.2003, mother of 7 (25 yrs)
13 Amal Fayez Jum’a, detained since 09.05.2004
14 Reema Riyad Hasan Abu Arrazaq Daraghmeh, detained since 28.07.2004
15 Mariam Salem Suleiman Tarabeen, detained since 24.01.2005
16 Wafa’ Samir Al-Bis, detained since 20.06.2005 (12 yrs, is in isolation)
17 Futna Mustafa Khalil Abu Al-Aish, detained since 21.07.2006
18 Wurud Maher Qasim, detained since 04.10.2006
19 Rawda Ibrahim Younis Habib, detained since 20.05.2007
20 Nada Ata Saleh Derbas, detained since 05.05.2007
21 Fatin Bassam Shafi’ Al-Saadi, detained since 20.05.2008
22 Sanabil Nabigh Yousif Brik, detained since 22.09.2008
23 Khadija Habash, detained since 22.01.2009
24 Raja’ Al-Ghoul, detained since 30.03.2009 (administrative detention)
25 Randa Shehateet, detained since 06.01.2009
26 Aisha Mohammad Abayat, detained since 13.08.2009
27Abir Mohammad Hasan Odeh, detained since 09.07.2009
28 Nisreen Abu Zeinah, detained since 18.08.2009
29 Ghufran Zamil, detained since 29.08.2009
30 Suad Ahmad Abdel-Ra’ouf Nazzal, detained since 22.08.2009
31 Hana Yahya Saber Shalabi, detained since 14.09.2009 (administrative detention)
32 Sumoud Yaser Hasan Karajeh, detained since 15.10.2009
33 Nili Zahi As’ad Sa’id, detained since 11.11.2009
34 Muntaha Khlaid Rashid Al-Tawil, detained since 08.02.1010, mother of 4 (administrative detention)
35 Alia Abdel Majid Al-Natsheh

In addition to Palestinian female detainees in Israeli jails, the Zionist entity imprisons the bodies of 7 Palestinian female martyrs:
1 Dalal Said Mohammad Al-Mughrabi, killed on 11.3.1978
2 Darin Abu Eisheh, from Jenin, killed on 17.02.2002
3 Zeinab Isa Abu Aalim, from Askar refugee camp, Nablus, killed on 22.04.2004
4 Hanadi Tayseer Abdel Malik, from Jenin, killed on 04.10.2003
5 Wafa’ Ali Khalil Idris, from Al-‘Am’ari refugee camp, Ramallah, killed 21.1.2002
6 Ayat Mohammad Lutif Al-Akhras, from Dheisheh refugee camp, Bethlehem, killed on 29.03.2002
7 Hiba Azim Daraghmeh, from Toubas, killed on 19.05.2003

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