RAMALLAH – Israeli forces imprisoned 30 teenage Palestinians over the month of August and collected 65,000 shekels ($17,270) from their families as fines, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said Monday, with the majority of the detainees saying they were beaten and tortured during their detention, interrogation, and transport from one detention center to another.
A statement released Monday quoted the committee’s lawyer Luay Akka as saying that among the detainees were minors as young as 13 years old.
Akka added that 17 of the detainees were taken from their homes during military raids, five were detained from off the street, four at military checkpoints, and four arrived voluntarily to detention centers after they received summons from Israeli authorities.
Three of the 30 detainees were held without being charged or standing trial in administrative detention, and the rest were sentenced after court hearings to periods ranging from one month to 45 months.
Mousa Khanafsa, a 14-year-old boy from Abu Dis in the Jerusalem district of the occupied West Bank told Akka that he was violently beaten when he was detained from a street near his house.
A group of undercover Israeli officers, he said, chased him in the street and when they caught him they “assaulted him with the butts of their rifles, stomped on him with military boots, and was left bleeding from his nose.”
It was the latest report to emerge recently from the committee and other rights groups, amid years of well-documented abuse and mistreatment of Palestinian children by Israeli forces.
Akka reported last month on the cases of two Palestinian minors who were tortured, abused, and medically neglected in Israeli custody, one of which after being shot at point-blank range when Israeli forces detained them for rock throwing in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah.
Locals in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur reported Saturday that Israeli police detained and assaulted 16-year-old Jamal al-Zaatari. During his detention, Jamal was pepper sprayed and beaten, resulting in injuries to his face, back, and feet, in addition to several bruises.
A report released recently by BADIL, a Palestinian NGO, warned of an increasing trend of Israeli forces shooting and injuring Palestinian youth — particularly in the knees and legs — during the near-nightly detention raids carried across the occupied West Bank.
Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) has also extensively documented the abuse of Palestinians children in East Jerusalem by Israeli forces and the harsh interrogation practices used to force their confessions.
Despite “on paper” having more rights than Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank who are subject to a draconian military detention system, in practice, Jerusalem minors “do not enjoy their enshrined rights” under the Israeli civilian court system, according to DCIP.
Out of 65 cases documented by DCIP in 2015, “more than a third of Jerusalem youth were arrested at night (38.5 percent), the vast majority (87.7 percent) were restrained during arrest, and only a slim minority of children (10.8 percent) had a parent or lawyer present during interrogation.”
Interrogations of Palestinian children can last up to 90 days according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, during which in addition to being beaten and threatened, cases of sexual assault, and placement in solitary confinement to elicit confessions are also often reported, while confession documents they are forced to sign are in Hebrew — a language most Palestinian children do not speak.
According to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, as of mid August, Israeli forces detained 560 children from occupied East Jerusalem alone since the beginning of 2016, and 110 minors were still being held in Israeli prisons, including four girls and 10 boys in juvenile detention centers.
According to Addameer, of the 7,000 Palestinians being held in Israeli custody, 250 were minors as of July.